The Numbers

Meg Whitman is the only woman in Harvard Business Review’s landmark study ranking the 100 best performing CEOs. Of the 2000 companies examined only 29 were headed by women. HBR then posted an article asking “Why so Few?” My reply appeared in the March print edition. The full text of the response appears below.

This Discussion Needs to be Reframed

What criteria determine

  • Best performing companies?
  • Best performing CEOs?

Do they include

  • Social or environmental good vs harm?
  • Building strong families and communities?
  • Raising moral standards?

Under what cultural rules are they determined?

As long as the frame for determining “the best” is built on assumptions of the predominant culture, those deemed successful will for the most part be members of that predominant group.

Women Are Building a New Frame

Women in business are changing the culture, the rules and the way we measure business and CEO success. Consider Andrea Jung’s mission for AVON - “To improve the lives of women globally.”

It may take a while but we’ll get there. Harvard Business Review may see the light someday but is not currently a leader in transforming how we define successful businesses and the leaders who create them. If they were, we’d have a different list based on different criteria and more women would be included.

Please share your thoughts - agree, disagree, raise a different point.

Anne Perschel
Anne Perschel
When she is not consulting; coaching; reading and writing about leadership; or enjoying her work in other ways; Anne can be found:

Listening to ocean waves receding over stones.
Enjoying the spontaneous expressions of young children who haven’t yet learned to hide their emotions.
Taking in the scent of freesias, lilacs or salt water.
Enjoying the great, or not so great, outdoors and all variations of nature’s gifts.
At the gym.

As Seen In:

Harvard Asks "Why So Few Women CEOs?" and Publishes the Answer