May 2nd, 2019 | by

In 2016, DiscoverOrg compiled a benchmark report that asked: How is gender distributed among C-suite and senior management roles at Fortune 1000 companies?

The answer then: Not much. Overall in 2016, we found that just 15% of senior management were women. At the most senior-level positions, women made up less than 10%.

Fast-forward three years: How has gender distribution changed in 2019?

Read on to see our new 2019 benchmark study, where we compare data from the DiscoverOrg database over a three-year timeframe, to see whether the playing field has improved, leveled, and in some cases, gotten worse, in the era of #MeToo.

The 2019 benchmark study looks at how gender is distributed:

  • In the C-Suite
  • By Department
  • By Seniority
  • By Company Size

Read on to see where women leaders are now, and how things have changed in three short years.

Gender Representation in the C-Suite: 2016 vs. 2019

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DiscoverOrg found significant disparity between men and women in C-level roles at Fortune 1000 companies in 2016. But gender distribution has changed a lot in three years!

How has the gender mix changed in the most visible roles in a company: the c-suite?

Gender Diversity in the C-Suite of Fortune 1000 Companies
Department 2016 2019 % Change
C-Suite overall 18% 26% +44%
Chief Executive Officer 7% 13% +86%
Chief Operations Officer 7% 22% +214%
Chief Financial Officer 9% 23% +156%
Chief Revenue Officer 13% 11% -15%
Chief Technology Officer 13% 5% -62%
Chief Strategy Officer 20% 23% +15%
Chief Information Officer 21% 13% -38%
Chief Legal Officer 32% 32% 0%
Chief Marketing Officer 48% 39% -19%
Chief Human Resources Officer 62% 63% +2%
Chief Compliance Officer 36% 42% +17%

 

The c-suite looks very different overall now when compared to 2016: a quarter of CXOs are now women. While parity clearly hasn’t been achieved here, a 44% increase in the highest leadership ranks of a company is significant. Further, in the CEO role, that increase jumps to almost 86%: That seems like a lot – until you consider that just 7% of CEOs of F1000 companies were women in 2013; at just 13% today, there’s still clearly a long way to go.

Other large gains in representation for women came in the form of COO and CFO, with +214% and +156%, respectively. Women now comprise almost a quarter of all leaders in this position.

Losses in female representation in the c-suite include Chief Technology Officer (-62%), Chief Information Officer (-38%), Chief Marketing Officer (-19%), and Chief Revenue Officer (-15%). Of particular note is CMO – a stand-out position with near parity in 2016 (along with human resource leaders) – where the number of female CMOs fell to 39% in 2019.

Read: 8 Ways Selling to Women is Different

Gender in Senior Management Roles by Department: 2016 vs. 2019

Moving down the org chart, here’s how Senior-Level Management* was distributed in 2016, in 2019, and the change over three years.

 

*Senior-Level Management includes Vice President, Executive VP, Senior VP, and President

Three years ago, women achieved gender parity in senior management roles in just one department: Human Resources. The bad news is, that’s still true in 2019.

But women have gained a lot of ground in other areas. In Operations and Finance, they have increased representation by over 200%, and in Information and Technology – historically a department with scant female leadership – we see an increase of 108%!

Interestingly, the largest gains have all been in departments with the fewest number of female leaders in the past: Operations, Finance, and Information Technology. The smallest gains have been in the departments where women have historically been most dominant: Human Resources, Marketing, and to a lesser degree, the Legal department; women now have now near-parity in these departments.

Read the 2016 study: A Deep-Dive Into the Composition of Fortune 1000 Executive Teams

Gender Representation by Seniority: 2016 vs. 2019

How does gender play out in the corporate hierarchy, and how has this changed since 2016? In our new 2019 study, we’ve broken this out into three levels:

  • Individual contributor
  • Mid-level management
  • Senior-level management

 

Gender Diversity in Senior Management in Fortune 1000 Companies
Department 2016 2019 % Change
Operations 7% 23% +229%
Finance 11% 35% +218%
Information Technology 13% 27% +108%
Legal 32% 45% +41%
Marketing 48% 42% -33%
Human Resources 62% 66% +6%
All Departments 18% 36% +100%

*Senior-Level Management includes Vice President, Executive VP, Senior VP, and President

Three years ago, women achieved gender parity in senior management roles in just one department: Human Resources. The bad news is, that’s still true in 2019.

But women have gained a lot of ground in other areas. In Operations and Finance, they have increased representation by over 200%, and in Information and Technology – historically a department with scant female leadership – we see an increase of 108%!

Interestingly, the largest gains have all been in departments with the fewest number of female leaders in the past: Operations, Finance, and Information Technology. The smallest gains have been in the departments where women have historically been most dominant: Human Resources, Marketing, and to a lesser degree, the Legal department; women now have now near-parity in these departments.

Gender Representation by Seniority: 2016 vs. 2019

How does gender play out in the corporate hierarchy, and how has this changed since 2016? In our new 2019 study, we’ve broken this out into three levels:

  • Individual contributor
  • Mid-level management
  • Senior-level management
  • C-suite roles

 

Gender Representation by Seniority in Fortune 1000 Companies
Seniority 2016    2019     % Change
Individual Contributor 31% 29% -6%
Mid-Level Management 26% 22% -15%
Senior Level Management 13% 25% +92%
C-Suite 18% 26% +44%

Women have seen significant upward momentum since 2016 in the two most senior levels of corporate hierarchy: in senior-level management roles, women have nearly doubled as a percentage of the total, and increased by 44% in the C-suite.

At almost every level, women comprise about one-quarter of the business workforce.

However, as Mid-level managers, and as individual contributors – roles such as Engineer, Representative, Team Lead, Analyst, Coordinator, Executive Assistant, and Coordinator – female representation has declined slightly since 2013.

Gender Representation by Company Size: 2016 vs. 2019

Do companies of different sizes hire men and women at different rates? We bucketed companies into three sizes:

  • Startup and Small Business
  • Mid-Market
  • Enterprise

Here’s what that looks like:

 

Gender Representation by Company Size – All Roles
Company Size 2016 2019 % Change
Startup and Small Business 23% 35% +52%
Mid-Market 24% 37% +54%
Enterprise 18% 37% +106%

 

In 2016, there was a modest difference: Enterprise companies had 25% fewer women in all roles than mid-market and small companies.

Since then, women have gained significant representation across all companies. In fact, the biggest gains coming from formerly-lagging enterprise companies, where there are twice as many women in 2019. Startup and small business, and mid-market companies have 50% more female decision-makers than they did three years ago.

It is interesting to note that companies of all sizes have, at most, a 2-point difference in the rate of female representation across all roles. Company size no longer seems to be an indicator of gender balance.

Every way you slice it – by department, by seniority, and by company size – with a few exceptions, women are gaining ground at the top.

Of course, the devil is in the details. Businesses still have a lot of work to do before gender parity is achieved among senior management. But if the significant gains made over the past three years are any indication of the future – equal gender representation is not far off.

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Charity Heller
About the author

Charity Heller

Content Strategist, DiscoverOrg

Charity Heller is DiscoverOrg's content strategy manager. She has 15+ years' experience developing and creating content in range of B2B, B2C, and creative industries; previously she founded and operated a book editing company. Charity earned a B.A. in English, Project Management certification, and Professional Editing Certification from U.C. Berkeley.