Insights & Ideas

Celebrating long overdue milestones: The impact of women in the c-suite 

Do you hear that? It’s the sound of glass ceilings being shattered all over the place.

We’re all used to moving at lightning speed in today’s market. But every once in a while, it’s good to pause and take stock of our wins. Which is why I’m taking a moment to reflect—and celebrate—this remarkable fact: For the first time since the Fortune 500’s inception in 1955, 10% of the prestigious companies on that list are being led by female CEOs.

This is progress we need—and must—continue. Not just because I am the father to two daughters, but also because I’ve worked with women leaders who have taught me so much about what it takes to make a company thrive.

And if you look at three recent stories, you’ll notice a fascinating trend:

  • When Mary Barra become CEO of General Motors in 2014, she took a company on the brink of bankruptcy and transformed the culture into a customer-focused one built on renewed customer loyalty.2
  • Oracle CEO Safra Catz spent years shifting her organization from a product-centric approach to a customer-centric one.3
  • Jane Fraser, first female CEO of Citigroup, focused on employee experience and wellbeing, unheard of in the land of Wall Street.4

A People-First perspective helps businesses thrive

What do all these leaders have in common? They shifted focus to people. Not profits, not products—people. Fortunately, it’s an approach I’ve grown very comfortable with, as People-First principles have long been an ingredient in Salo’s special sauce, championed by our CEO, Lisa Brezonik.

At Salo, we know that putting people first isn’t just an empathetic and innovative way to approach your work—it’s good for business, too. And the results from women in the c-suite continue to back this up. According to the Harvard Business Review, companies with women in leadership roles are “more profitable, more socially responsible, and provide safer, higher quality customer experiences.”5

Closing the gender pay gap: a collective effort

Still, a recent PEW report highlights just how much the gender pay gap continues to lag, with women earning on average only 82% of what men earn.6 While I find this statistic deeply disturbing, I am encouraged by the fact that workers in the 25-34 age range are closing the gap. We must actively push for greater equity whenever we can.

The focus on people is here to stay

As more women become part of the top management tier, we need to keep up the momentum when it comes to People-First practices. Instead of asking, how can our business succeed, ask, how can people benefit?

Taking a People-First perspective isn’t a trend or an anomaly. It leads to better business outcomes, better work-life balance, and more fulfilling careers. And the best part? It’s good for all of us.

Adam Sprecher headshot
Adam Sprecher headshot

Adam Sprecher

Chief Growth Officer/Salo Advisory Lead


About Salo

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Salo connects senior finance, accounting, and HR professionals with organizations that need their expertise. Joining Korn Ferry’s Interim Executive & Professional practice enables us to continue our twofold, people-focused approach: connecting people with meaningful careers where they can make a positive impact and offering innovative and customized business solutions for clients looking to tackle big challenges. Together with Korn Ferry, we are committed to putting people first, to build a world that works better together.

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