Six Smoking Hot CEOs
Executive compensation is a big topic around the water cooler these days. The financial crisis and government bailouts put the spotlight on egregious and outlandish pay packages.
Perhaps one of the unintended consequences of the outrage will be to highlight the disparity between female and male compensation. As hard as it may be to believe in this day and age, women tend to be paid less for the same work.
While there may be perfectly good reasons for the disparity, I suspect Ms. Elsenhans is ultimately getting paid less for performing the same job. Where is the outrage about such blatant discrimination?
Are Companies Run by Female CEOs Better Investments?
Don’t hold your breath. Women have been fighting this battle since the beginning of time. Though things have gotten better, they still have a long way to go.
Representation in the executive suite is still paltry, considering how well women do when given the opportunity. There are still too few females running the show.
One investment entity betting on those women that are running the show is Naissance Capital’s recently formed Women’s Leadership Fund. The bet is that women in charge will deliver superior returns in the long run.
What an intriguing concept. Can it really be that those companies having made the leap of faith to put women in control perform that much better than male dominated competitors?
We only have a small sample size to see. Certainly the race will be intriguing, not to mention the stakes being high.
Here are six companies with women CEOs that are worth watching.
Carol Bartz – Yahoo (YHOO)
Thus far, Bartz is doing a fine job. Yahoo’s shares have recovered nicely. Noticeably absent is the rollercoaster ride of change in direction that accompanied Yang. Bartz’s steady hand should reward shareholders in the long run. Who knows? With a softer touch in the management suite, perhaps a deal with Microsoft can be salvaged.
Patti Hart – International Game Technology (IGT)
Men are wonderful at playing games, but business is serious stuff. Patti Hart took over the helm for International Game Technology (IGT) earlier in the year. The casino gaming company hit hard times in 2008 due to the recession and financial crisis.
It turns out the gambling business is not recession-proof. My guess is that a female in the executive suite might have had a better feel for where the overall market was heading.
Shares have more than doubled since Ms. Hart took over. Could there be more gains ahead with her at the helm? Perhaps.
Tamara Lundgren –
Schnitzer Steel (SCHN)
Who says a woman can’t run a tough-as-nails industrial company? Tamara Lundgren, a Wellesley grad with legal and finance experience, grabbed the wheel at Schnitzer Steel (SCHN) and welcomed the challenge of operating a company in a male-dominated industry.
With steel prices pressured by the weak economy, Lundgren hopes to make up the difference with volume. Her primary target is the cash for clunkers program that fits perfectly with Schnitzer’s strategy of recycling.
No time to fret over problems here. Lundgren is attacking the industry head-on.
Indra Nooyi – PepsiCo (PEP)
Not only is it wise to think about gender diversity in the executive suite, but global diversity should be a top priority for any multinational company. PepsiCo (PEP) seems to have gotten this right by its choice of Indra Nooyi as its chief executive. The Indian native brings a worldly view to running one of the largest companies in the world. Understanding subtleties of culture can make the difference in growing sales or falling by the wayside.
Earlier this year Ms. Nooyi took the bold step of acquiring Pepsi Bottling Co. We’ll see if vertical integration makes sense for investors. So far they seem to be pleased, with the stock up significantly since bottoming in March.
Andrea Jung –
Avon Products (AVP)
Nothing says femininity like Avon Products (AVP), but don’t be fooled by the feminine charms of Andrea Jung. This lady is a tiger, and that is a good thing for shareholders.
The make-up and fashion world is located in the heart of New York, and New York is a brutal landscape for business. Many have come and gone. Within that environment Avon has been a survivor. Its direct sales model is one key, but so, too, is keeping its line of products fresh and invigorating. Jung has done that with great packaging and a focus on skin care for an aging population.
Angela Braly – WellPoint (WLP)
Despite a challenging market for the health care business, investors need not worry about Angela Braly running the show at WellPoint (WLP), the giant health insurance company.
Braly is spending an inordinate amount of time lobbying against health care reform. The stakes are high. A public option could significantly impair WellPoint’s profitability. Braly is clearly focused on that bottom line and doing everything in her power to make sure the insurance industry survives and thrives this latest attack on the industry.
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