By Conor White
PepsiCo's decision that CEO Indra Nooyi will be replaced by company executive Ramon Laguarta highlights the gender disparity in C-Suite roles, an issue that's only getting worse, said New York Times gender correspondent Susan Chira.
"Nooyi said she would've loved to have chosen a woman," Chira said Tuesday in an interview on Cheddar. "But there was no one Pepsi saw as a credible successor to her, and I think that's very discouraging."
Nooyi's departure is the latest in a string of female CEO exits since mid-2017, including Marissa Mayer (Yahoo), Irene Rosenfeld (MDLZ) and Meg Whitman (Hewlett Packard Enterprise). Including Nooyi, the number of female S&P 500 chiefs has shrunk 25 percent ー from 32 to 23 ー since last year.
"When women go, it's very seldom that they're replaced by other women," Chira said. "So it's not just that it's really hard to get to the top, it's that the pipeline of women that are seen as credible successors is incredibly small."
During Nooyi's 12-year term as CEO, sales at the company grew 80 percent.
But Chira said that women are less likely to be "targeted" or "seen as leaders," and therefore are not granted an equal opportunity to prove themselves.
"This is something the corporate world has to examine searchingly because all the solutions haven't really worked," Chira said.
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