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Secret Billionaires: The Executive Power Gap Revealed

Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates are household names, yet their female counterparts are not. While this exemplifies gender inequality across business and media, these women’s financial profiles show a greater, persistent problem around gender and power - of the top executives at S&P 500 companies women only control about 1% of the value of shares held among fellow leaders.

We know about the efforts to get women on boards and policies to improve gender equality within big businesses globally, but the question that people within every sector need to be asking is: Who holds the real power in the biggest organisations?

The Female Lead have partnered with data science company ExecuShe to raise the profiles of some of the world’s most financially powerful women and to find out what their profiles tell us about power and equality.

These women have been researched and tracked by ExecuShe or the ExecuShe Report who researched all the S&P records to find the richest and most powerful women on a global scale. ExecuShe gather its data from three sources: U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings, annual reports, and company websites who have produced a list of the biggest female executive shareholders within the S&P 500. But when we look at these women alongside their counterparts, you can see a startling discrepancy between how much they control in terms of shares.

The stark reality that the data reveals is a shocking story about who still has almost all of the power in business - because it is ownership of shares that shapes business control.

This power gap appears despite the progress we have seen in recent years, with some of the top US firms, including Citigroup Inc., General Motor Company and Oracle Corporation bringing women into chief executive roles.

Edwina Dunn, Founder of The Female Lead said of the findings: