March 2, 2022
While the realities of the glass ceiling remain to this day, women in business have made impressive strides in recent years. Case in point: The 2021 Fortune 500 list included more female CEOs than ever in its 67-year history – 41. While that figure represents an all-time high for the annual list and a long way since Katharine Graham became the first woman on the list in 1972 as CEO of the Washington Post company, it’s still a meager 8.1% of all Fortune 500 CEOs.
In observation of March being Women’s History Month, let’s look at a few female leaders and how they’re looking to grow their respective businesses.
Lauren R. Hobart, President & CEO, DICK’S Sporting Goods, Inc. (Tii:DKS)
The sporting goods industry is a massive one that industry research provider IBISWorld pegs at $65.6 billion. As the head of a leading sporting goods retailer, Lauren Hobart wants to gain a larger piece of that sizeable pie by expanding into new markets and adding to DICK’S 734 locations. Only the third CEO in the company’s history, Hobart joined DICK’S in February 2011 as Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. In her time as CMO, she is credited for revamping the sporting goods retailer’s marketing efforts and driving significant improvement in the ROI of the marketing spend. DICK’S, which is scheduled to report fourth-quarter and annual results on March 8th, came off a record third quarter in which the company delivered significant sales and earnings growth over both last year and 2019.
Corie Barry, CEO, Best Buy Co., Inc. (Tii:BBY)
Named CEO in June 2019, Barry has served in various positions in her 20-plus-year history with the consumer electronics retailer, including chief financial and strategic transformation officer, chief strategic growth officer and senior vice president of domestic finance. As CEO, she is credited with doubling Best Buy’s significant customer relationship events to 50 million and is on track to growing annual revenue to $50 billion by fiscal 2025 (the retailer topped $47 billion in 2021 revenue). Best Buy landed at No. 4 in Barron’s 100 Most Sustainable Companies for its ESG initiatives through her leadership.
Tricia Griffith, President and CEO, The Progressive Corporation (Tii:PGR)
Joining Progressive as a Claims Representative in 1988, Griffith worked her way up the ladder, serving as Chief Human Resources Officer, Personal Lines Chief Operating Officer and President of Customer Operations and other leadership positions before being named President and CEO in 2016. Since taking the helm, revenues at the insurance giant have increased each year, reaching $47.7 billion in 2021. Griffith will be honored by The Peter J. Tobin College Of Business at St. John’s University as The Greenberg School of Risk Management’s “2020 Insurance Leader Of The Year.” The celebration, delayed by the pandemic, is set for April 7th.
Michelle D. Gass, CEO, Kohl’s Corp. (Tii:KSS)
A retail industry veteran, Gass joined the department store retail chain in 2013 as chief customer officer, working her way up to chief merchandising and customer officer in 2015, CEO-elect in October 2017 and assumed the CEO role in May 2018. Since taking the position, Gass has been credited with the transformation of the company’s efforts in becoming a leading omnichannel retailer, brought in and elevated notable national brand partnerships, and evolved Kohl’s loyalty program into an industry-leading platform. Despite missing analyst expectations for its fiscal fourth quarter, the retailer projects fiscal 2022 net sales to rise 2-3% and achieved an operating margin of 8.6% two years ahead of schedule. Looking ahead, Kohl’s plans to expand its reach into the beauty segment by partnering with Sephora to open hundreds of Sephora locations within Kohl’s stores.
Michele Buck, Chairman, President and CEO, The Hershey Co. (Tii:HSY)
With global brands such as Hershey’s, Reese’s, Kit Kat, Jolly Rancher, Ice Breakers, SkinnyPop, and Pirate’s Booty, Hershey Co. is an $8 billion a year leader in the snack food industry. At the head of it all is Michelle Buck, the first CEO in the company’s more than 120 years in operation and a veteran of the snack food business. Before joining Hershey, Buck served 17 years at Kraft/Nabisco in numerous senior positions and at the Frito-Lay division of PepsiCo. Named Hershey’s CEO in 2017, Buck has led the chocolatier through a pandemic to deliver record results last year. In 2021, Hershey Co. posted 10.1% higher consolidated net sales and a 16.4% rise in net income despite a volatile environment in which logistics and raw material costs rose.
This is just a small sampling of the talented female leaders at large multinationals whose determination and insight have led them to the highest levels of Corporate America. Hopefully, in time, we’ll see a new cohort of female executives rise through the ranks to grow tomorrow’s Fortune 500s.
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