topSkip to main content

Check out NEW’s Top 10 stories of 2017

dial moving to 2018

Women leaders and gender equality dominated the news in 2017 – making history, transforming culture and capturing headlines in the industry (and beyond). Here are 10 leading gender equality news stories and trends that impacted the industry in 2017, as reported by NEW and NEW SmartBrief.

1. #MeToo
It started with Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, but quickly spread across industries, with “the silence breakers” named Time Magazine’s person of the year. The #MeToo hashtag has trended in 85 different countries, and continues to open a long-overdue dialogue.

2. Retail apocalypse slams women workers
Stores closed at a record pace in 2017 with more than 100,000 industry workers laid off. And while women are losing retail jobs, more men are entering the industry, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Their analysis cites Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing women lost 129,000 retail jobs in 2017, while men gained 106,000. That means women are now the minority in the retail industry for the first time in years, holding 49.6 percent of jobs.

3. Record 32 women lead Fortune 500 companies
A record number of female CEOs are on this year's Fortune 500 list, increasing from 21 to 32 over the last year. This year's list also marked the first time a Latina CEO was included, with PG&E Corp.'s Geisha Williams appointment in March. No black women currently serve as CEOs in the Fortune 500.

4. Gender equality – in 217 years?
Gender parity may actually be decreasing, according to the World Economic Forum, which now predicts that it will take 217 years to close the economic gender gap. Eliminating the gender gap completely could add trillions to global GDP.

5. Women and minorities are half of new directors
Half of the 397 newest independent directors at S&P 500 companies are women and minorities, according to a Spencer Stuart analysis of 2017 proxy statements. Shareholder pressure is partly to thank for the diversity, the highest level since the company began keeping track in 1998.

6. Nooyi tops list of most powerful women
PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi claimed the 11th spot in the Forbes' list of the Most Powerful Women in the World, up from No. 14 last year. Other prominent names on the list include General Motors' Mary Barra, Rosalind Brewer of Starbucks and EY's Beth Brooke-Marciniak.

7. Gender pay widens at top
The pay gap between men and women is constant at all levels of the business — and the disparity is actually largest at the top. One key factor? Women are often treated differently during the negotiation process.

8. Women execs rise in retail
Women run 6.4 percent of the U.S.’s biggest companies (by revenue), the highest proportion of female CEOs in the 63-year history of the Fortune 500. Among the women moving up in the retail are: Mary Beth West, SVP and chief growth officer, Hershey; Michelle Gass, CEO, Kohl’s; Colleen Wegman, CEO, Wegmans Food Markets; Rosalind Brewer, COO and group president, Starbucks; Margaret Georgiadis, CEO, Mattel; Daniella Vitale, CEO, Barneys New York; Fran Horowitz, CEO, Abercrombie & Fitch; Mandy Simon, CIO, Conagra Brands.

9. CEOs take action for diversity
NEW joined more than 70 leaders from business and academia gathered in New York for the first-ever CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion summit. Discussions focused on advancing the diversity and inclusion agenda with a focus on key issues around gender, race and measuring impact.

10. Irene Rosenfeld retires
Mondelez International Inc. has hired an executive search firm to help transition a new CEO to succeed Irene Rosenfeld. Rosenfeld’s retirement was effective November 2017; she will continue as chairman until March 31, 2018.

Subscribe to our free NEW SmartBrief weekly newsletter for the latest industry news about women’s leadership and industry talent trends.