Record number of women CEOs on this year's Fortune 500 list, Amazon moves to No. 2 spot

Women lead a record high of 37 out of the 500 companies this year.

May 18, 2020, 1:47 PM

A record high number of female CEOs are at the helm of companies on this year's Fortune 500 list.

The number of businesses with female leaders that made this year's ranking of the top 500 U.S. companies by revenue climbed to 37 this year, a slight bump from last year's 33.

Women leaders account for 7.4% of Fortune 500 companies. Of the 37, only three are women of color.

While this a significant improvement from 2010 -- when there were only 15 women CEOs on the list, or even 2018 when there were 24 -- many were quick to point out that the data still indicates there is a long way to go when it comes to achieving gender equity in the C-suite.

Amazon moves to No. 2 spot

PHOTO: An Amazon distribution center, April 25, 2020, in North Las Vegas, Nevada.
An Amazon distribution center, April 25, 2020, in North Las Vegas, Nevada.
David Becker/AFP via Getty Images

This year's Fortune 500 list ranked companies based on their total revenues for their respective fiscal years, meaning the list does not yet show the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the U.S. economy.

The top 10 included: Walmart, Amazon, ExxonMobil, Apple, CVS Health, Berkshire Hathaway, UnitedHealth Group, McKesson, AT&T and AmerisourceBergen.

While the rankings varied slightly in 2020, the same players stayed in the top 10. Walmart marked its eighth consecutive year in the top spot.

The biggest mover was Amazon, which climbed three spots from fifth to second.

"Amazon obviously continues to grow at a ridiculous pace of 25% to 30% per year. When you get to be big it doesn't take much for you to continue to be big," James Thomson, a consultant at Buy Box Experts and the former head of Amazon Services, told ABC News.

Amazon's rise does not yet take into account its pandemic profits, when the e-commerce giant saw skyrocketing demand while most brick-and-mortar businesses were forced to close to stop the spread of COVID-19.

At a time when most companies are undergoing mass layoffs and furloughs, Amazon has "hired 175,000 people in the last seven weeks to scale up and meet consumer demand," Thomson said.

While Amazon has courted controversy over worker safety issues during the pandemic, Thomson said he predicts the backlash will ultimately have little impact on its business.

"Consumers still want their stuff and nobody is more better equipped to get them stuff than Amazon," he said.

"I suspect a lot of consumers will compartmentalize and say Amazon will need to figure that out, but I still need Amazon to deliver all my things," he added. "There are not a lot of good alternatives out there. Imagine a world where there wasn’t an Amazon. Where would consumers get their products?"

When Amazon first made the list in 2002, it was No. 492. Since then its market value has spiked more than 22,000%, according to Fortune.

Thomson said that Amazon's emphasis on "long-term profitability" is partly what led it to invest heavily in infrastructure and logistics and become the behemoth it is today, and that despite its fair share of issues from antitrust complaints to worker backlash, Amazon is well-equipped to continue growing.

"I would expect that Amazon is going to continue to be very close to the top of this list for the foreseeable future," he said. "They have more pokers in the fire than most companies."

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