Inspiring Break-the-Glass-Ceiling Advice from Women Entrepreneurs

15 Inspirational Female CEOs Making An Impact

By Cara Hutto
InHerSight | Originally published August 22, 2022
Updated: July 6, 2022

This year marked another milestone for women in the highest-ranking corporate role: chief executive officer.

As of May 2022, there were 44 female CEOs spearheading America’s largest companies, up from 41 in 2021. And for the first time ever, there are two Black women running Fortune 500 businesses—Rosalind Brewer and Thasunda Brown Duckett.

Career development and recruiting consultant Dana Hundley says that seeing even one other woman with a path like yours can help influence and encourage you to achieve the same feat. “There’s this element of breaking down walls and breaking down barriers to entry when you see someone do something. It makes it feel more attainable to you, especially if that person looks like you, has similar experiences to you, shares some of the same challenges.”

Even though there’s a long way to go toward equal gender representation in the C-suite, we must take a moment to celebrate all of the women making strides and setting an example for young girls who have a business idea or want to grow up to be leaders. Highlighting these women is especially important since InHerSight data shows that 84 percent of women say it’s important or very important to see women filling leadership roles where they work.

Here are 15 inspirational female CEO role models and what makes them so great—whether it’s their incredible business idea, their commitment to supporting women and other marginalized communities, their non-traditional career trajectory, or being the first to fill their position. After hearing their stories, you might just feel compelled to follow in their footsteps and take a chance on yourself.

Read more: 4 Women Founders & Business Owners on Creating Their Unique Career Trajectories

15 inspirational female CEOs making an impact

1. Rosalind Brewer

Rosalind “Roz” Brewer became the CEO of Walgreens in March 2021, making her one of only two Black women to lead a Fortune 500 company. She previously made history as the first Black woman COO of Starbucks and the first woman—and first Black person—as president and CEO of Walmart.

Throughout her career, Brewer has championed diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). When speaking on the importance of advocating for diversity, she says, “I demand it of my team. Every now and then you have to nudge your partners. You have to speak up and speak out. And I try to use my platform for that. I try to set an example.”

Read more: 15 New Women in Leadership to Celebrate in 2021

2. Tricia Griffith

In 2016, Griffith became CEO of The Progressive Corporation after prior roles as a claims representative, chief human resources officer, and Progressive’s Personal Lines chief operating officer. At Progressive, Griffith launched the company’s first-ever diversity and inclusion program, and she ranks on Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women and Fortune’s Most Powerful Women lists.

In Progressive’s DEI statement, Griffith writes: “Yes, of course, the business case for DEI is important, but it’s not just a business case. It’s a human imperative. That’s why…we’re committed to a diverse workplace where there’s fair and equal access to learning and career opportunities, and where everyone feels comfortable introducing new ideas and different points of view. Being able to speak up, debate important issues, and find common ground and creative solutions is key to our success.”

3. Michele Buck

Michele Buck is the first woman CEO in The Hershey Company’s 127-year history, and in 2021, Forbes named the company the most female-friendly for employees in the world. During the pandemic, Buck and her team launched the Pathways Project, a five-year plan to make Hershey’s workplace more diverse and inclusive. Under her leadership, the company is aiming to increase the percentage of women in its workforce to 50 percent by 2025, and they’re also attempting to close their gender pay gap at the company globally.

Read more: Your Resource Guide to Understanding the Intersectional Gender Pay Gap

4. Lisa Su

Lisa Su joined semiconductor company Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) in 2012 and became CEO two years later in 2014. According to Forbes, she’s led one the greatest recent turnarounds in the tech industry, seeing as AMD’s stock value has increased more than 25-fold since Su became CEO.

Her list of awards and accolades is extensive. In 2021, she became the first woman to receive the IEEE Robert Noyce Medal, an award for outstanding contributions to the microelectronics industry, and in 2022, she was named the International Peace Honors Honoree “for her achievements in revolutionizing high performance computing, the donation of supercomputing power for infectious disease research, and inspiring people from all backgrounds to pursue careers in STEM.”

Read more: 20+ Women in Tech Who Inspire

5. Thasunda Brown Duckett

Thasunda Brown Duckett is CEO of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA), an insurance company whose mission is to expand financial inclusion and opportunity. She’s currently one of two Black female Fortune 500 CEOs (and just the fourth ever) and is known for her passion for helping communities of color achieve equal opportunities to education, career success, and wealth. In addition…[MORE]


To read the entire article by Cara Hutto at the InHerSight website , visit: Inspiring Break-the-Glass-Ceiling Advice From Women Who’ve Already Done It