I’m sure you’ve seen that the 2021 Fortune 500 includes 41 companies led by women. What do you think about the news? Do you feel as I do — grateful for an all-time high in female leaders on the list, but hyperaware that the record-breaking number is still so few women?

An additional positive from the list to focus on includes the highest-ranked company ever run by a female CEO: No. 4, CVS Health with CEO Karen Lynch. The highest previous ranking was held by General Motors CEO Mary Barra at No. 6.

Also making history on this year’s Fortune 500 list are Roz Brewer of Walgreens Boots Alliance (No. 16), and Thasunda Brown Duckett of TIAA (No. 79). This is the first time the Fortune 500 has ever included two companies run by Black women. As Kristen Bellstrom pointed out in Fortune’s e-newsletter, The Broadsheet, before Brewer and Duckett began their new jobs, only one Black woman — former Xerox chief Ursula Burns — had ever been at the helm of a Fortune 500 business. Burns stepped down from that role in 2017, and, with the exception of Mary Winston, who served as Bed Bath & Beyond’s interim chief for several months in 2019, Black female CEOs have been missing from the Fortune 500 ever since. 

Clearly, we have a long way to go. This report makes me especially grateful for you all, a group of women that can simultaneously celebrate every step toward progress without ceasing to move forward. And those of you ahead aren’t forgetting the younger generations behind. Women support women. Now that’s worth a fortune.

Register for Upcoming Virtual Events

We’re hosting our next Women in Retail and Total Retail Virtual Exchange on Thurs., June 17 at 11:00 a.m. ET. This event features live interviews with leading retail executives on a variety of mission-critical industry topics. These interactive discussions provide valuable insights for retailers as they prepare their organizations to compete in a rapidly evolving retail environment. Speakers include:

  • Tammy Berentson, Chief Marketing Officer, FreshDirect
  • Mike Natenshon, Founder and CEO, Marine Layer
  • Paige Thomas, President and CEO, Saks OFF Fifth
  • Robert Glazer, Best-Selling Author, Speaker, Host of the Elevate Podcast
  • Rick Watson, Founder and CEO, RMW Commerce Consulting

Sign up for this complimentary livestream event here.

Our sister brand, Women Leading Travel & Hospitality, is hosting a Virtual Exchange on June 10 at 12:00 pm ET. This event will feature a live interview with remote work expert Sacha Connor, CEO of Virtual Work Insider, a consultancy that coaches organizations to work seamlessly across any distance. This interactive discussion will provide valuable insights for attendees as they prepare their organizations for an evolving post-pandemic work environment. In this complimentary livestream event, Connor will address the future of the industry’s workforce as the world transitions to more remote and hybrid workplace models. You can register for this Virtual Exchange here.