Business

CVS names female CEO, expanding the ranks of women leading Fortune 500 companies

Posted November 6, 2020 8:16 a.m. EST

— CVS Health has announced that Karen Lynch will be elevated to CEO, making her the 40th female chief executive on the Fortune 500 list.

Lynch will replace the current CEO, Larry Merlo, on February 1. Merlo will continue to serve on the board of directors until he retires in May. Lynch is currently the executive vice president of CVS Health and president of Aetna, the insurance company it bought in 2018.

Lynch has been with Aetna since 2012. She has had a "critical leadership role" in CVS' integration of Aetna into the company and helping lead the redesign and strategy of its stores. In a release, she said she will "continue to make health care more accessible and affordable, driving better health outcomes for our consumers and communities."

She will join 39 other woman on the largely white and male Fortune 500 CEO list. Other newcomers include Citigroup's Jane Fraser and Clorox's Linda Rendle.

The figure is inching up, but women still represent about 8% of the Fortune 500 CEO list, highlighting the slow pace of change at the highest levels of business.

Women have been on the list for 48 years, ever since Katharine Graham became chief executive of The Washington Post in 1972.

Progress has been slow.

A tiny fraction — less than 1% — of Fortune 500 companies have Black CEOs. And only three women on the list of Fortune 500 female CEOs are women of color, according to Fortune. Those women are Sonia Syngal, the CEO of Gap Inc., Lisa Su, the CEO of Advanced Micro Devices and Joey Wat, the CEO of Yum China.

More women have climbed the ranks this year, but at the same time, some veterans have stepped down from their posts.

In June, Marillyn Hewson stepped down from her role as Lockheed Martin's CEO after more than seven years. She is now the executive chairman of the board.

Ginni Rometty retired as CEO of IBM, Cheryl Miller took a medical leave from her role as CEO at AutoNation, and Kathryn Marinello resigned from her role as Hertz's CEO.

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