According to research from executive search firm CTPartners, the Fortune 250 has gone from one female CFO at the start of 2001 to 20 in 11 years, with half named since 2009.
The data show that eight percent of Fortune 250 CFOs are women. Thirty-five percent of those women held CFO roles in other companies before being hired into their current positions, and 65 percent were internal hires. Thirty percent had 19 years’ internal experience before being named CFO.
Highlights from the research:
8% Current F250 CFOs are women (20)
All sitting female CFOs, except one, hired 2001 or later (1 in 1997)
50% sitting female CFOs named in 2009 or after (10)
35% hired in as CFO from outside (7)
65% were internal hires (13)
30% had 19 yrs. internal experience or more before being named CFO (6 out of 20)
15% had 27 yrs. internal experience or more before being named CFO (3 out of 20)
Barry Bregman, managing director at CTPartners and head of the firm’s CFO practice, said, “The increase in female CFOs, especially since 2009, is an encouraging trend, but the still small percentage reflects the corporate Catch-22 limiting more aggressive progress. More companies are committed to hiring women CFOs to strengthen diversity and performance of their companies. The problem is that most large public companies will only consider women with prior CFO experience. As a result, Fortune 250 companies are facing a highly limited talent supply.”
Bregman added, “There are many qualified women who deserve to advance to the CFO role, but they aren’t getting a chance because of companies’ excessive caution. In effect, it’s hard to become a CFO if you aren’t already a CFO. Companies need to rethink their criteria if they are serious about diversity.”
CTPartners analyzed the Fortune 250 to identify female CFOs and supporting data from 1990 through 2011. Interviews by Barry Bregman with male and female CFOs added insight. The list of Fortune 250 female CFOs is available on request.