Women Leading Corporate Africa

Harvard Professor Anthony Mayo Presents


Any list of top CEOs reveals a stunning lack of diversity. Among the leaders of Fortune 500 companies, for example, just 32 are women, three are African-American, and not one is an African-American woman. Tony Mayo studied the careers of the roughly 2,300 alumni of African descent who have graduated from Harvard Business School since its founding, focusing on the 67 African-American women who have attained top positions in corporations or professional services firms. These women thrived, they found, because of three characteristics that are key to resilience. The insights gleaned are important not just for African-Americans and women; they’re essential for any manager who recognizes that an organization’s diversity is its strength.  Professor Mayo will present the insightful findings from this research.

Learn from, and be inspired by, the women leading big business in Africa



Women from the Africa.com Definitive List of Women CEOs will respond to Professor Tony Mayo’s findings about African-American women in the C-Suite by telling their own stories of how they reached the top spot in Africa, comparing and contrasting the research findings as they relate to African women, and providing their insights on what it takes for women to get to the top of large, complex African companies.

Moderator:  Teresa Clarke, Chair of Africa.com




The Africa.com Definitive List of Women CEOs is the product of a data-driven research project that began by identifying all publicly listed companies on all of the twenty-one stock exchanges in Africa – a list of over 1,400 companies.  The data for the analysis was provided by Bloomberg. From there, the researchers screened the companies in order to focus on the largest, those with a market capitalization of $150 million USD or larger, resulting in a list of 355 corporations.

Once the researchers had identified these 355 companies, the largest in Africa, they then searched the public information available on the management teams of these companies.  In order to qualify for the List, women had to have a CEO or managing director title at the head of one of these companies. The titles were then vetted further by examining where the women fit within the company’s overall organizational structure to ensure that the women truly hold authority that is consistent with their title.  

In addition to the women selected through the process above, the analysis went on to identify two additional groups of women running Corporate Africa.  One additional group of women are those who run very large divisions of these same 355 listed companies, such that their division if spun out, would qualify for the list with its own divisional market cap of at least $150 million USD.  The roles of the women running these divisions were vetted within the context of the company’s organizational structure – the title alone was not sufficient to make the list.  The women in this group have profit and loss responsibility for a revenue-generating division that would be valued at $150 million or more.

Lastly, women who run an African country or region for global corporations listed on international stock exchanges were then identified.  To qualify for this group, only international companies with a market cap of $50 billion or more are included.  The women running these businesses range from those who run a country, such as Kenya or Nigeria, to those who run all of sub-Saharan Africa for these global behemoths.

Data provided by Bloomberg and African Business Magazine. 

Stock Exchanges as Activists for Women’s Leadership

Leading the Charge in Gender Lens Investing

This panel will explore the recent developments through which stock exchanges globally and in Africa are driving women’s leadership in big business by making gender diversity a requirement for listing. 

Opening Address: Anne Aliker, Head of Investment Banking (International), Standard Bank Group

Moderator:  Lerato MbelePresenter, BBC World News


Women Leading Corporate Africa

Women Leading Corporate Africa

In collaboration with our thought leadership partner, Standard Bank

standard bank