Women CEOs Speak: New Korn Ferry Study Quantifies Success Factors for Future Women CEOs
-Candid, one-on-one interviews with 57 women CEOs help create a roadmap for women building careers & companies building CEO pipelines-
The research, undertaken from May through
"Given there have been only 94 women CEOs ever in the
Fortune 500, we were thrilled at the high participation rate," said
The women CEOs in the study participated through in-depth individual
interviews focused on their personal history, career, and key
personality traits and drivers, and by completing
Six insights emerged with surprising consistency across all the women CEOs who participated in the study:
1.These CEOs worked harder and longer to get to the top – The women CEOs were an average of four years older than their male counterparts, and worked in a slightly higher number of roles, functions, companies and industries.
2.They were driven by both a sense of purpose and achieving business results – More than two-thirds of the women interviewed and assessed said they were motivated by a sense of purpose and their belief that their company could have a positive impact on the community, employees, and the world around them. Nearly a quarter pointed to creating a positive culture as one of their proudest accomplishments.
3.Differentiating traits sustained the women's success on the road to CEO – Defining traits and competencies that emerged time and again in the research included courage, risk-taking, resilience, agility and managing ambiguity.
4.They were more likely to engage the power of teams – Scoring significantly higher than the benchmark group on humility – indicative of a consistent lack of self-promotion, an expressed appreciation for others, and a tendency to share the credit – the women CEOs were more likely to leverage others to achieve desired results.
5.Despite evident potential, the women didn't generally set their sights on becoming CEO – Two-thirds of the women said they never realized they could become CEO until a boss or mentor encouraged them, and instead focused on hitting business targets and seeking new challenges, rather than on their personal career advancement.
6.The women shared STEM and financial backgrounds that served as a springboard – Early in their career, nearly 60 percent of the women had demonstrable expertise in either STEM (40 percent) or business/finance/economics (19 percent), all fields where they could prove themselves with precise, definable outcomes and that are crucial to success of the business.
The research report recommends clear steps companies can take to accelerate and maintain a steady supply of women CEO candidates, including early identification of high-potential talent and communicating opportunities in terms that play to women's strengths and engage specific drivers. Mentors also play an indispensable role, affirming potential to encourage more women to strive to become CEOs and, later on, sponsors who actively help advance women's careers. These recommendations are currently being applied to design specific programs for a list of Beta companies eager to produce more women leaders.
"One thing that struck us during the research was how closely the women
CEOs' traits aligned with those of the modern leaders that boards are
now seeking: courageous and able to successfully navigate uncertainty
and ambiguity in a constantly shifting environment," said
For the complete study, "Women CEOs Speak" visit:https://engage.kornferry.com/womenceosspeak
For Korn Ferry
Judy Roland, 917.806.6260