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Top paid women CEOs, women in leadership and the “glass cliff”

Top paid women CEOs, women in leadership and the “glass cliff”

Welcome to our #240 weekly newsletter.

“For women taking control of their financial future”

-Jana Hlistova

From The Purse

In this week’s newsletter, we highlight the top paid women CEOs in the S&P 500, but only 25 women are included in the list, and men continue to significantly out earn women at the most senior level.

Even though studies show women outperform in 17 out of 19 leadership skills, they are up against gender bias and discouraging trends including the “glass cliff’.


And you can review the news in brief so you stay on top of global financial, economic and investing trends.

I hope you enjoy this week’s newsletter.

Until next week,


Top paid women CEOs, women in leadership and the “glass cliff”

Out of 341 CEOs included in the AP’s annual compensation survey, only 25 are women in the S&P 500, as per The Associated Press.

Shocking, right?

But this is the highest number of women making the list since the AP survey began in 2011. The second highest tally of women CEOs was in 2017 ie 7 years ago.

This includes CEOs at S&P 500 companies who have served at least two fiscal years at their companies, which filed proxy statements between Jan. 1 and April 30, 2024.

However, overall trends are discouraging. And according to Christy Glass, a professor of sociology at Utah State University:

“We’ll see a year where there’s kind of a banner year of women CEOs,” she said. ”But then a year or two down the road, we’ll see a significant turnover.”

The median pay package for female CEOs rose 21% to $17.6m. That’s better than the men fared whose median pay package rose 12% to $16.3m.

However, the highest paid men still make far more than the highest paid women.

Broadcom CEO Hock Tan raked in $161.8m — the vast majority of that in stock awards.

In contrast, Lisa Su, CEO and chair of the board of chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices, was the highest paid female CEO in the AP survey, with a total compensation worth $30.3m.

The others in the top five highest paid female CEOs include:

  • Mary Barra: General Motors-

    • total compensation of $27.8m

  • Jane Fraser: Citigroup

    • total compensation $25.5m

  • Kathy Warden: Northrop Grumman Corp.

    • total compensation $23.5m

  • Carol Tome: UPS Inc.,

    • total compensation $23.4m

Gender bias is embedded in the cultural and social fabric of our society.

And women are up against systemic bias in the workplace, which only becomes more pronounced the higher up you go.

The gender pay gap is therefore significant at the C-suite level.

Women in leadership and the “Glass Cliff”

In the first quarter of 2024, CEO appointments and departures worldwide reached a record high.

There were 52 departures and 68 new appointments among corporations listed on global stock markets such as the FTSE 100 and S&P 500.

But women CEOs are 4x as likely to leave their position in under a year.

That's 24% of women CEOs leave within a year, compared to 10% of men.
(Data from Russell Reynolds Associates).

Here's why:

-Studies show that companies in turmoil are more likely to appoint women to leadership roles. This represents far more 'risk of failure' for women CEOs.

-The board usually signals 'change' and 'transformation' to investors by hiring a woman CEO. But male CEOs are not labelled with the same. (LSE research)

- Women face harsher scrutiny and criticism, with less support. Especially during a market downturn.

-A board which lacks gender diversity, will flip back to 'what they know' and 'what they are comfortable with' ie a male CEO.

-Women's authority is more likely to be undermined, because she challenges gender stereotypes. See "The Authority Gap" by Mary Ann Sieghart.

-Senior level women are leaving due to micro-aggressions, promotion gaps and 'the burden of overseeing diversity and inclusion programmes'. (Leanin & McKinsey research).

However, studies show women outperform in 17 out of 19 leadership skills, leading to better team retention and build better company culture.

This leads to greater profit. Women are good for business.

What next? (Re) listen to The Purse Podcast interview:

News in Brief

Financial news

  • Big Tech is eating the world: the outperformance of Nasdaq 100 vs Nasdaq 100 Equal Weight burst higher again extending a remarkable trend.

  • The US labour market looks completely schizophrenic. While the Establishment survey by BLS reports 272,000 new jobs for May, the Household survey shows a large drop in the number of employed, down 408,000 jobs.

  • ECB cuts rates by 25bps as expected despite higher inflation projections for 2024 and 2025. Main rate now at 4.25%

  • Halifax’s latest house price index, just released, shows that average prices were little changed month-on-month in May. The average house prices slipped to £288,688 last month, a 0.1% drop compared to £288,862 in April.

  • Roaring Kitty’ YouTube livestream fails to lift GameStop stock as shares tank by ~40%. Gamestop had announced before the livestream to dump 75m shares into the recent meme mania, just days after completing a 45m share offering.

  • Nvidia becomes third member of $3tn market value club as AI rally steams ahead. Stock rallied 147% this year, adding about $1.8tn. Chip giant passed Apple in market cap, is now 2nd most valuable public company.

  • To put things into perspective: the market cap per employee of Nvidia has hit almost $100,000,000.

Crypto: bitcoin, ethereum, DeFi

Coffee Break? Read This

We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with Jana via the The Purse website or tweet @jointhepurse and janicka. We do no provide investment advice. Please do your own research or speak to a financial adviser.

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