Much of the tech industry is focused on gender diversity and increasing the representation of women in the industry. There has been progress at the largest U.S. tech companies with more women rising to the top levels as companies see the value of having a better representation of women in leadership. However, the gender gap continues to be significant with women making up a small percentage of executive teams.
A recent McKinsey report on Women in the Workplace found that women make up 21 percent of the C-suite in corporate America, up from 17 percent five years ago. While companies are moving in the right direction, there is still a long ways to go towards achieving gender parity at the senior leadership level.
Studies show that the case for greater diversity is clear. Gender diversity on executive teams is significantly correlated with higher profitability and value creation according to a McKinsey report on diversity (2018). They found that companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams are 21 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. In a recent study by the Wall Street Journal, they determined that shares of the top 20 most diverse companies in the S&P 500 index outperformed those of the least diverse companies.
We’ve compiled a list of the 23 leading tech companies with the highest percentage of women on their executive team based on leadership team data from company websites. We’ve focused on the largest public U.S. tech companies according to Forbes’ list of the largest tech companies in 2019, and public tech companies with a market capitalization over $1.5 billion. These companies have executive teams where women comprise 30 percent of more of the total.
Below is a detailed breakdown of the data supporting our analysis, which is based on company website data as of January 15, 2020.
|Companies||Executives (Women / Total)||Share of women (%)|
|Etsy||4 / 7||56%|
|PagerDuty||7 / 13||54%|
|Grubhub||3 / 6||50%|
|SurveyMonkey||6 / 12||50%|
|Cisco||6 / 13||46%|
|Square||4 / 9||44%|
|Blackline||5 / 12||42%|
|DocuSign||6 / 15||40%|
|Intuit||6 / 15||40%|
|Oracle||2 / 5||40%|
|Smartsheet||3 / 8||38%|
|eBay||5 / 14||36%|
|Twilio||4 / 11||36%|
|Alteryx||4 / 12||33%|
|Anaplan||3 / 9||33%|
|Slack||4 / 12||33%|
|Uber||4 / 12||33%|
|Zoom||4 / 12||33%|
|Airbnb||5 / 16||31%|
|Medallia||4 / 13||31%|
|Okta||4 / 13||31%|
|Workday||5 / 16||31%|
A few other companies that have executive teams where women comprise almost 30 percent of the total are Texas Instruments (29%), Eventbrite (27%) where Julia Hartz is the co-founder and CEO, and Cardlytics (27%) where Lynne Laube is the co-founder and COO.
Here are some of the key observations from our analysis of these executive teams:
Most Popular Roles for Female Executives
The most common roles for female executives are general counsel, chief marketing officer and chief people officer. While these are often critical roles in companies, they are rarely promoted to the chief executive officer role because they lack profit and loss responsibility. The other C-suite role where we see a concentration of women is chief financial officer with nine in our list. Two high profile female CFOs whose companies did not meet our list criteria are Amy Hood of Microsoft and Ruth Porat of Alphabet and Google.
Least Common Role for Female Executives
The chief operating officer and chief information officer roles are the least often filled by a woman with one COO, Belinda Johnson of Airbnb, and one CIO, Sheri Rhodes of Workday. However, there are a few notable women serving in the COO role at other major tech companies that did not meet our list criteria such as Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook, Francoise Brougher of Pinterest, Gwynne Shotwell of SpaceX (who is also President) and Claire Hughes Johnson of Stripe. Women in the chief communications officer role are also uncommon with only two companies with female CCOs.
Companies with Female Chief Executives
Three out of the 23 companies have female CEOs. They are Safra Catz of Oracle, Jennifer Tejada of PagerDuty, and Therese Tucker of Blackline who is also the founder. Some of the companies with the most high profile female CEOs in tech, Ginni Rometty of IBM, Susan Wojcicki of YouTube and Anne Wojcicki of 23andMe, did not make our list since they didn’t meet our list criteria. The lack of female CEOs is not surprising given that most of the female executives on the executive teams do not serve in roles with profit and loss responsibilities such as chief operating officer or heads of business units or subsidiaries that often serve as stepping stones to the CEO role.
Companies Where Women Outnumber Men
Etsy and PagerDuty stand out since they are the only companies where women are the majority of the leadership team. The gender composition of the executive team is evenly split at GrubHub and SurveyMonkey. Cisco (46%), Square (44%) and Blackline (42%) follow closely with women making up almost half of the executive team. Most of the companies in our survey have women comprising approximately one-third of the executive team.
A growing number of tech companies have expressed their commitment to creating a more inclusive and diverse workplace, and have implemented programs to reduce barriers for women and minorities in their companies. Making diversity a top priority is crucial as nearly half of millennials say a diverse and inclusive workplace is an important factor in a job search, according to a research report by the Institute for Public Relations (2017).
“Diversity is one of Grubhub's greatest assets. We’re committed to creating a workplace that welcomes and supports people from all backgrounds,” said Kelley Berlin, Senior Vice President of People at Grubhub, where women make up 50 percent of the executive team.
Olivia Duane Adams, co-founder and chief customer officer of Alteryx, said that building a gender-diverse culture has been of the “utmost importance” to her since she co-founded the company in 1997 because women “truly bring so much value to the workplace through the way we think, execute and lead.” She added that the company is “honored to have been named one of the top tech companies with the most gender-diverse executive teams.”
Some of the strategies these companies have undertaken to foster a more diverse workplace include programs for women, parental leave policies, and employee resource groups and events that support efforts to promote diversity.
“Our commitments to diversity and inclusion include the proliferation of employee resource groups including Women at Zoom, offering paid parental leave, maintaining strict harassment and discrimination policies, and hosting events that demonstrate cultural differences and similarities,” said Lynne Oldham, Chief People Officer at Zoom.
“We launched the Women of Analytics initiative across our global community to enable the growth of analytics through STEM programs to attract talent and share successes, with the goal of empowering women in business,” said Duane Adams.
While more women are moving into leadership positions in big tech companies, there is still much room for improvement as women remain a minority in tech, and in particular, are underrepresented in executive roles with operational responsibility that are a launch pad for the CEO position.
Tech has cultivated a reputation as one of the most innovative and progressive industry sectors, and has an opportunity to lead the push for diversity and inclusion. Achieving greater equality is not only a gender issue, but also an economic one that will yield benefits to the bottom line and far beyond.
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