Only 4.6% of S&P Companies have female CEOs, and just over 25% of executives are women. We’ve selected eight of these inspiring women who are leading the business world, acting as leaders, game-changers, and inspirations to women everywhere.
7. Ursula Burns
CEO of Xerox
Xerox has a legacy as a printer and copier giant but has struggled being a paper-centric company in a digitizing industry. Ursula Burns pushed to diversify what the company offers by incorporating technological business services into its focus, which now make up 57% of Xerox’s profits. Burns, the first Black woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company, has a legacy at Xerox herself. She started as an intern in 1980, and has since climbed the ranks.
6. Amy Hood
CFO of Microsoft
Amy Hood has worked at Microsoft since 2002. Hood previously played an important role as CFO of the Microsoft Business Division, pioneering the implementation of Office 365 and helping Microsoft acquire Skype and Yammer. May 2014, she was named the CFO of Microsoft (a job title that comes with a hefty salary and a sweet stock package). What’s next for Microsoft’s first female CFO? The future is in the cloud and mobile prospects.
5. Marissa Mayer
CEO of Yahoo
Marissa Mayer had her start at a very young Google, overseeing the design and coding of the iconic desktop page and other services. These days, she’s known for being Yahoo’s CEO, a position she’s held since 2012. Under her leadership, Yahoo has been brought up to speed.
Before Mayer stepped in, the twenty-year-old company had less than sixty engineers on their mobile team and employees were using Blackberrys. Not only did Mayer invigorate the company culture (one of her notable updates is an eight week paid leave for any parent with a new child, biological or adopted) but has acquired plenty of properties that make the comeback company worth watching.
4. Susan Wojcicki
CEO of Youtube
Previously Google’s SVP of advertisement and commerce, Susan Wojcicki was appointed to CEO of Youtube in February 2014. She’s been with Google since the very beginning—Wojcicki’s garage served as the tech giant’s first HQ, and she was their first marketing manager. Wojcicki is known as an advertising icon. After all, she did develop AdSense and Adwords, which account for 96% of Google’s profits. Plus, Time named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world for 2015.
3. Mary Barra
CEO of General Motors
Mary Barra, a General Motors employee since she was 18, made history as the first female CEO in the auto industry. Her first task at GM was a great hurdle: Barra had to handle the recall of the Chevrolet Cobalt, whose faulty ignition switch and lead to at least 21 deaths.
She’s been working to transform the company’s culture, starting with accountability and effective micro-level change. Rather than attempt to conceal the issue or deflect the blame, Barra acknowledged the defect and stated she would “put this painful experience permanently in [GM’s] memories”. This CEO is fixing a flawed system while also facing forward; be on the lookout for a self-driving Cadillac, expected for a 2017 release.
2. Indra Nooyi
CEO of PepsiCo
Indra Nooyi has led PepsiCo to growth and success in spite of an increasingly health-conscious culture. A part of the PepsiCo family since 1994, Nooyi became CEO in 2006. Under her leadership, the food and beverage company acquired Naked Juice, Tropicana, and Quaker Oats Company. Nooyi emphasizes the importance of a global approach to business, as well as product innovation—which paid off when PepsiCo’s shares increased beyond the S&P 500’s expectations.
1. Sheryl Sandberg
COO of Facebook
Hired as chief operations officer of Facebook in 2008, Sheryl Sandberg is responsible for making Facebook profitable. She focused on the social network’s mobile approach and her efforts proved to be wildly successful. With Sandberg’s direction, Facebook’s profits skyrocketed 2730%, which can be largely attributed to mobile advertisement revenues.
Sandberg is also known for her 2013 book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, a New York Times bestseller with a movie deal. Lean In tackles the issues of feminism, the barriers women face in the professional world, and provides guidance to women vying for workplace advancement.