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Inside the Fight for More Female CFOs

Companies should rethink practices that limit opportunities for women in finance, and women should advocate for themselves more, a top recruiter says.


CFO | March 13, 2018


The CFO article, “Inside the Fight for More Female CFOs,” was authored by Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Jenna Fisher. She explains the importance of gender equality in the workplace. The article is excerpted below.

With talk of gender equality in the workplace becoming commonplace, from the red carpet to the Ford production line, female finance executives are also getting in on the conversation. They’re scanning the C-suites of large companies and wondering why so few women are CFOs.

The reason is certainly not a supply shortage. In the United States, women now earn 51% of bachelor’s degrees in accounting, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. These degrees are being put to good use: Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that 61% of U.S. accountants and auditors are women.

But this early career majority doesn’t translate to the C-suite. In a recent analysis of the 1,000 largest U.S. public companies by revenue, I found that less than 12% of them had women CFOs.

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The female CFO drought is part of a wider drought of female senior financial executives. In general, many women do not reach the types of leadership positions that serve as stepping stones to that corner office.

The problem tends to begin when women start having children, generally in their 30s. Many studies have shown that doing so is a prime driver of income inequality between men and women. One recent Denmark-based study found that women tend to spend more time raising their children and performing other household duties than their husbands do.

As a result, they work fewer hours, take longer breaks from employment, and are more likely to move into less demanding jobs that also pay less. They also have fewer opportunities for advancement; the study found that women with children had a lesser chance of becoming a manager.

To read the full article, click here.

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Inside the Fight for More Female CFOs