Diversity in the C-Suite: The Dismal State of Diversity Among Fortune 100 Senior Executives

24 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2020

See all articles by David F. Larcker

David F. Larcker

Stanford Graduate School of Business; Stanford University - Hoover Institution; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Brian Tayan

Stanford University - Graduate School of Business

Date Written: April 1, 2020


There has been a broad push in recent years to increase diversity at the board and CEO levels of public corporations. Despite this effort, diversity on boards and in senior leadership positions has not reached the levels to which advocates aspire. We provide new insight into this topic by examining the size, structure, and demographic makeup of the C-suite (the CEO and the direct reports to the CEO) in each of the Fortune 100 companies. Demographic statistics by each functional role are provided. Organizational charts of the C-suites of each company as of February 2020 are provided by reference.

We find that women (and, to a lesser extent, racially diverse executives) who directly report to the CEO are underrepresented in positions that directly feed into future CEO and board roles (such as CFO and P&L leaders) and have greater representation in positions that are less likely to lead to these appointments (such as general counsel or human resources). That is, diversity statistics in the C-suite—even though low—still overstate the likelihood of increased diversity among corporate leadership in coming years.

We ask:
• At what step along the way does the process of promoting diverse executives break down?
• Should companies disclose diversity in greater detail by level or function?
• What accounts for the fact that women have much higher representation in lower potential C-suite roles?
• What accounts for the very low levels of racial diversity across C-suite roles?
• When will company initiatives actually lead to tangible improvements in diversity?

Keywords: Diversity, C-suite, Fortune 100, diversity pipeline, glass ceiling, racial diversity, executive diversity, board diversity, board recruitment, CEO succession, talent development, leadership, corporate governance research

JEL Classification: G3, G34, M12, M14

Suggested Citation

Larcker, David F. and Tayan, Brian, Diversity in the C-Suite: The Dismal State of Diversity Among Fortune 100 Senior Executives (April 1, 2020). Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University Closer Look Series: Topics, Issues and Controversies in Corporate Governance No. CGRP-82, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3587498

David F. Larcker (Contact Author)

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

Graduate School of Business
518 Memorial Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States
650-725-6159 (Phone)

Stanford University - Hoover Institution ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels

Brian Tayan

Stanford University - Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

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