Of the 50 biggest companies in America, General Motors is the only company succeeding on a key measure

Bill Pugliano/Getty ImagesGeneral Motors CEO Mary Barra is just one of two female CEOs among America’s 50 biggest companies.
  • General Motors is one of two companies among the 50 largest in the United States with a female CEO.
  • It is also one of two companies among the 20 largest in the US with gender parity on its board of directors.
  • Paul Tudor Jones’ nonprofit Just Capital found that GM is the largest American company that excels at providing opportunities for women.
  • This post is part of Business Insider’s ongoing series on Better Capitalism.

General Motors is the only company among the largest 20 in the United States, as ranked by Fortune, that has both a female CEO, Mary Barra, and an equal number of women and men on its board of directors.

Of these top 20, the only other company with gender parity on its board is healthcare company McKesson. Of the top 50, the only other company with a female CEO is PepsiCo, led by Indra Nooyi.

It’s also notable that when investor Paul Tudor Jones’ nonprofit Just Capital looked at the companies in the Russell 1000 index (comprising the 1,000 largest companies trading in the US), it found only six that could meet all of the following criteria:

  • has conducted a pay equity analysis
  • has policies and targets for diversity and equal opportunity
  • has incurred no fines from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the last three years
  • provides flexible working hours and day-care opportunities for employees
  • has a board with at least 25% women.

Both GM and PepsiCo were among the six.

Just Capital tracks companies that are creating long-term value by investing in their workers, customers, and communities where they do business, rather than solely maximizing short-term profits for the sake of shareholders – because history has shown this kind of toxic short-termism ends up hurting shareholders, as well.

In his influential letter to CEOs this year, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink – in his role as the head of the world’s largest asset manager – noted that his firm’s years of experience have led to the conclusion that, “Boards with a diverse mix of genders, ethnicities, career experiences, and ways of thinking have, as a result, a more diverse and aware mindset. They are less likely to succumb to groupthink or miss new threats to a company’s business model. And they are better able to identify opportunities that promote long-term growth.”

Just Capital noted that GM has robust leadership development programs for women, provides above average benefits for new mothers, and has donated $US10 million to programs fostering STEM education for American girls from elementary through high school.

Betty Spence, president of the National Association for Female Executives, told Forbes in 2016 that GM’s dedication to fostering female leadership began in the 1990s with CEO John F. Smith, Jr., who was tasked with revitalizing the automaker. Spence noted that Smith was on the board of the nonprofit Catalyst, dedicated to promoting inclusive workplaces for women. “He got how important it was to have women in those positions,” she said.

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