Catalyst CEO Champions for Change Advance Women in Leadership

Catalyst CEO Champions For Change continue to advance women in their organizations at every level across the leadership pipeline, particularly in the executive ranks—demonstrating their commitment to doubling down on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the midst of a global pandemic and turbulent economy. According to the newly released Prioritizing Equity at a Pivotal Moment: The Catalyst CEO Champions For Change report, women represent 27.9% of executives at Champion companies, compared to 23% among their global peers.

These companies are led by more than 70 CEOs pledging to advance women across ethnic and racial groups into leadership roles. For the first time since the initiative was launched in 2017, a subset of Champion companies provided metrics on promotions, revealing that in 2020, these companies promoted women at nearly equal rates to men. In fact, the group promoted women at slightly higher proportions than men into senior leadership positions.

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“We applaud these CEOs and their organizations for their continued commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives through the challenges of the pandemic,” said Catalyst President & CEO Lorraine Hariton. “It’s critical that we continue to develop the leadership pipeline for women, particularly women of color, if we’re going to see significant gains to build equitable and inclusive workplaces for women.”

The Champion companies also outpaced their peers in the Fortune 500 in women’s representation at the board of directors level at 32.2% compared to 26.5%. Women identifying with underrepresented ethnic or racial groups accounted for 7.5% of board members at Champion companies, compared to 5.7% at Fortune 500 companies overall.

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This is an inflection point in the history of the women’s movement. Companies can address the disadvantages women endured because of Covid-19 by developing robust initiatives focusing on their re-entry, recruitment, advancement, and retention. The report highlights actions companies can take, including:

  • Pinpointing their organization’s greatest areas of opportunity to advance women, particularly women identifying with underrepresented ethnic or racial groups.
  • Creating customized solutions to foster equitable advancement, such as flexible work options and sponsorship programs.
  • Tracking and measuring progress against defined goals.

The Catalyst CEO Champions For Change companies represent more than 11 million employees and over $3 trillion in revenue globally. Since global data collection began in 2018, this group has continually outperformed their global peers in the representation of women across the leadership pipeline.

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