Women CFOs Reach Record Level in U.S.

Fifty-four women serve as finance chief at S&P 500 companies, up from 40 a year earlier.

 The number of women taking the role of chief financial officer increased 35 percent at big U.S. companies in the past year, putting more female executives in the top ranks of management after decades of slow gains.

There were 54 women serving as CFO among Standard & Poor 500 Index companies as of last month, up from 40 a year earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Rankings. While men still account for almost 90 percent of CFOs in the index, the growth marks progress for female managers at a time when there’s been little change at the chief executive officer level.

Pepsi’s Nooyi

Currently about 15 percent of CEOs at companies in the index were CFOs at some point in their careers, said Joshua Wimberley, who runs Korn/Ferry International’s search business focused on financial officers. PepsiCo Inc. CEO Indra Nooyi, one of the highest-profile female leaders, took the job after more than six years as CFO. She previously oversaw strategy for PepsiCo, ASEA Brown Boveri and Motorola Inc.

Negotiating Strength?

Time Warner Cable’s Esteves worked as CFO at several smaller companies before taking her current position in 2011. In one former job, she had to overcome her bosses’ reluctance to send her overseas, where she’d be working with companies unaccustomed to female executives. Esteves successfully argued that being a woman could be an advantage.

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