Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman is one of the most accomplished leaders in corporate America.
The Taekwondo black belt (and former recreational pilot) has completely reinvented Nasdaq in a bid to wrestle market share (and prestige) from long-time rival New York Stock Exchange.
A couple boxes checked since Friedman took over as CEO on January 1, 2017:
Acquired anti-financial crime software plater Verafin in 2020 for $2.75 billion.
In 2021, unveiled a board diversity “comply or disclose” framework for Nasdaq listed companies. Companies must include on their board of directors a certain number of diverse directors. If not, they must disclose why they can’t meet this requirement.
Nasdaq is currently in the process of moving trading to Amazon Web Services to position for the future of trading.
Oversaw an expansion and major futuristic remodeling of Nasdaq’s now iconic Times Square location.
Nasdaq’s stock price during Friedman’s tenure: +155% compared to a 94% rise in the S&P 500 and a 144% gain for the Nasdaq Composite (we couldn’t leave that out, obviously).
And while pulling off those Herculean feats in the competitive world of high finance, she has been a mom to two boys, a wife and a champion of helping to advance women to leadership positions.
On International Women’s Day, Friedman tells Yahoo Finance Live progress has been good on getting more women into decision-making positions. But way more needs to be done.
“I think that the progress has been really significant,” Friedman says.
Friedman continues, “I look at it specifically within the financial community. When I came in, I would say that I was really fortunate because I benefited from a lot of groundwork that had been laid in the 1980s, where companies at least acknowledged that they needed to put policies and practices in place to try to create more parody. I got the benefit of that coming into the industry. Now over to 1990s and the 2000s, it went from policies and practices to culture, to career progression to a lot more opportunity. So when you look at the financial industry, many more women are at the very tippy tops of those firms.”
The cold, hard data underscores that much more progress is required.
In 2021, 26% of all CEOs and managing directors were women compared to only 15% in 2019, according to a new study from Catalyst. It’s nice to see an increase, but 26% is still ridiculously low.
The Fortune 500 reported an all-time high of 23 women CEOs in 2021. That includes six women of color. Aren’t there 500 companies in the Fortune 500?
Catalyst’s survey goes on to note only 86 women are promoted to manager for every 100 men promoted to the same level.
“We now have Jane Fraser as the CEO of Citi. You’ve seen a lot of progress in other industries across the corporate community. You’re seeing many more women CFOs and CEOs. But, we still have more to go. And I think that we just have to acknowledge and celebrate the progress, but then say, OK, there’s still a lot more we can do to really create that parody,” Friedman adds.
Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.
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