Accenture Names First Woman US Group Chief

June 5, 2015 1:53 pm

By Barbara Frankel

JSweet 2015

Accenture’s announcement that Julie Spellman Sweet has been promoted to Group Chief Executive-North America means that as of next month, four of the six major consulting firms will have women leaders (Deloitte, IBM and KPMG are the others).

Virginia Rometty became Chairman, CEO and President of IBM in 2012. Deloitte named Cathy Engelbert CEO in February and KPMG announced in April that Lynne Doughtie will be its next Chairman and CEO in the United States, starting July 1.

Sweet, who is also now a member of Accenture’s Global Management Committee, previously was General Counsel, Secretary and Chief Compliance Officer.  Before joining Accenture in 2010, she was partner in the law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore, LLP, leading a corporate practice.  She also serves on the Board of Directors of the National Center for Children and Families and the Bipartisan Policy Center, as well as the Board of Trustees of Claremont McKenna College.

Women CEOs Lead Inclusive Cultures
Video: Novartis’ Christi Shaw: “About 60 percent of my direct reports are women … when it comes to appointing leaders, Novartis is willing to accept and embrace the diverse perspectives and talents of all associates.”Video: KeyCorp’s Beth Mooney: “Women lead, not with their differences, but by trying to be part of the team.

Deloitte’s Cathy Engelbert: “The partners sponsored me and asked, ‘What does Cathy need? What client should she work with?’”

In an interview two years ago, she discussed the importance of diverse views in senior leadership, saying  “With our top 20 leaders located across the world, we enjoy tremendous diversity in thinking and perspective, which ultimately helps us deliver results and makes this a great place to work.”

Best Practices to Promote Women

There now are 25 women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies (or 5%). That also includes Rometty and the DiversityInc Top 50’s Christi Shaw of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation and Beth Mooney of KeyCorp, and DiversityInc 25 Noteworthy’s Mary T. Barra of General Motors and Ellen Kullman of DuPont.

The DiversityInc Top 50 will now have six women CEOs (or 12%).

An analysis of the companies in the Top 50 with the best demographics for women in management and the executive level found they all have three factors – a strong, cross-cultural mentoring program, active women’s employee-resource groups, and flexible workplaces with individualized programs.

One of the biggest gaps companies say they face in female executive retention is holding on to mid-career women.

Solutions they cite include “stay” interviews held much earlier in a woman’s career to determine obstacles to her retention and engagement, leveraging technology to the maximum to enhance flexibility, and creating specialized resource groups for women with particular challenges, such as Women in Sales.

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