Although 475 of the largest 500 companies in the United States do not have female CEOs, 25 companies do, which is more than ever before. In 1998 that 5.0% was a paltry 0.2% and by 2009 it had only reached 3.0%. Although the progress is slow, it is progress nonetheless. What the target percentage should be is difficult to ascertain given we do not know how many women actually want to run a Fortune 500 company. That being said, the figure should certainly be north of 5%, so we should recognize the women that continue to pioneer the way into the C-suite and boardroom so that future generations have a well-traveled trail.
Two females paving the way in 2014 and joining the well-esteemed list of female CEOs (albeit not in the Fortune 500) are Paula Schneider and Jody Gerson, heading American Apparel and Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG).
Paula Schneider is trying to lead American Apparel in a profitable direction while also improving the culture so that it becomes more respectful of women. She is well suited for the job as she ran the world’s largest swimwear manufacturer while also championing women through speaking engagements and raising money for Avon’s Walk for Breast Cancer as a team captain. Her efforts earned her the National Organization of Women’s Business Owners Inspiration Award in 2010.
Jody Gerson is regarded as one of the best music publishers in the industry with the business acumen to lead UMPG through an evolving landscape in the digital era.
She is credited with signing major artists such as Alicia Keys, Norah Jones and Lady Gaga. What is even more inspiring is that Jody has risen through the music industry ranks while also having the full-time job of mother to three children.
Trailblazers like Paula Schneider and Jody Gerson are able to inspire women of all ages, instill confidence in women seeking to hold the title of CEO and make the path to that title less formidable.
By Caroline Kirwin ’15