Top Seven (7) Female CEOs

Female CEOs are on the rise in Fortune 500 companies. 2019 represents a record year, with 33 female CEOs. While this is still a small percentage of the overall total at 6.6%, it does represent an increase of 37.5% over last year, when there were 24 female CEOs. Additionally, Glassdoor’s annual survey of the top 100 CEOs features seven women, a number that corresponds with the overall total number in Fortune 500 companies.

The increase in the past year can be attributed in part to the increase in the number of female board members. “We are seeing women and minorities on boards ticking up, and boards have a lot to do with who becomes CEOs,” says Lorraine Hariton, CEO of Catalyst, a nonprofit consulting and research firm focused on women in the workplace. 

The good news behind the increase of female board seats (up from 16% fifteen years ago to 26% today) is research that shows how diversity in the boardroom provides a positive impact on the business. This information has not been lost on investors who continue to push for more diversity to build stronger leadership teams.

Let’s look at the top seven female CEOs on the Glassdoor list of top 100 CEOs.

Lynsi Snyder, In-N-Out Burger
2019 Top CEOs Ranking: #3
CEO Approval Rating: 99%

Ms. Snyder started at In-N-Out Burger when she was 17, leafing lettuce. “The experience was priceless,” Snyder said of her first In-N-Out job. “I learned the importance of attention to detail and providing customers the product and overall experience they’ve paid for.” She took over at age 35 and has developed a strong culture that includes above-market pay, benefits, and growth opportunities.

Colleen Wegman, Wegmans Food Markets
2019 Top CEOs Ranking: #9
CEO Approval Rating: 97%

Ms. Wegman has been at her family business for 28 years, taking over as CEO in 2017. She has also created an enviable culture, in just a short time. According to a current Meat Clerk at Wegmans, “Everyone is super friendly and inviting, and there seems to be a true open door policy with any of the upper management. You seem limited only by your own goals and ambitions here.” 

Cathy Engelbert, Deloitte
Top CEOs Ranking: #15
CEO Approval Rating: 97%

In 2015 Ms. Engelbert became the first woman CEO of a U.S. big four accounting firm. “Building a team that brings you solutions instead of challenges, listening to and collaborating with them — that ultimately prioritizes your focus on issues where you can have the most impact,” Engelbert told Glassdoor. “To me, productivity is directly related to the personal relationships you are able to build.”

Pamela Nicholson, Enterprise Holdings
2019 Top CEOs Ranking: #53
CEO Approval Rating: 94%

Enterprise has long had a strong promote-from-within culture, and Ms. Nicholson is a wonderful example. She has been with the company for more than 35 years, and became the CEO in 2013. Her advice to others, “Don’t sell yourself short. Set your goals high. If you believe in yourself and what you are doing, you’ll find it’s usually worth some sacrifice, but the rewards will make it all worthwhile.”

Tricia Griffith, Progressive Insurance
2019 Top CEOs Ranking: #61
CEO Approval Rating: 93%

Ms. Griffith, started with Progressive Insurance as a Claims Representative trainee in 1988. She became the CEO in July of 2016. In an interview in Forbes, she shared her three leadership tenets:

  1. With the right people, culture and values you can accomplish great things.
  2. Allow your leaders to lead and know when to get out of the way.
  3. Never stop listening to people at all levels of the company.

Lynne Doughtie, KPMG
2019 Top CEOs Ranking: #72
CEO Approval Rating: 92%

Ms. Doughtie spent more than 30 years at KPMG before becoming CEO in 2015. She has already had an impact, calling for actionable strategic initiatives, “We have to do more than tell women they need sponsors. We have to identify high-potential women by name and strategically map them to those who will help them get to the next level. We set goals, we measure them and we hold leaders accountable.”

Cindy Mi, VIPKid
2019 Top CEOs Ranking: #100
CEO Approval Rating: 90%

As the CEO of the leading global online K12 education, the top company for remote jobs, and a top 100 best places to work award winner from Glassdoor, Ms. Mi is new to the top CEOs list. Like others on this, she has developed a culture that has employees excited and bought in to making a difference for both students and educators.

Congratulations to these amazing leaders and to everyone who made the list. Great leadership is an achievement that requires humility, effort, empathy, energy, and confidence. If you’re looking for ideas on building a great culture, adding diversity to your leadership team, or have an immediate need for an open position, send us note, and one of our executive recruiters will respond accordingly.