blue laser light


Women directly reporting to CFOs outnumbered 6:1

Carol Larson, champion for Women in Finance, Deloitte CFO Program

CFOs have an average of seven direct reports—six men and one woman—according to Deloitte’s third-quarter 2017 CFO Signals™ survey, which captured the opinions of 160 finance chiefs from some of North America’s largest companies.

Women directly reporting to CFOs outnumbered 6:1—CFO Signals

"The proportion of CFOs reporting one or fewer women as direct reports—versus those reporting two or more—was higher in Q3 2017 than when the survey asked the same question in the first quarter of 2014," says Carol Larson, senior audit partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP, and champion for Women in Finance for Deloitte's CFO Program. Ms. Larson points out that in 2014, 8 percent of CFOs had no female direct reports, versus 17 percent in Q3 2017.

Research shows that having women in top leadership roles leads to increased company performance across the board.1

The third-quarter finding underscores the need to continue the discussion on diversity and inclusion in finance as a driver of business performance and profitability,

says Ms. Larson.

Carol Larson
Carol Larson, senior audit partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP

Men outnumber women 6:1 among CFOs’ direct reports: CFO Signals

Next generation CFOs

With regard to the readiness of their direct reports to advance to the CFO role, 90 percent of CFOs surveyed say they have at least one report who will be ready within the next three years, and half report at least one who will be ready within one year,

says Greg Dickinson, managing director, Deloitte LLP, who leads the North American CFO Signals survey.

"Just 13 percent of the CFO respondents report more than one of their direct reports is CFO-ready, and about 30 percent say they have at least one direct report who has already been identified as CFO-ready by their board," adds Mr. Dickinson.

There are notable industry differences when it comes to the total number of direct reports according to the survey. CFOs from the energy/resources sector report the lowest mean number of direct reports (5.4), and CFOs from the health care/pharma and telecommunications/media/entertainment sectors report the highest (about 7.4).

There also are industry differences when it comes to gender representation, with CFOs from the retail/wholesale sector reporting the lowest mean number of women at 1.4 (nearly 30 percent report no women) and those from health care/pharma reporting the highest at 3.0 (all report at least two women).

"We're seeing improvement, but in the course of my role with the Deloitte CFO Program, I still uncover challenges facing women in finance at various stages throughout their careers," notes Ms. Larson. From her perspective, one way that a CFO might bolster the role of women is to help ensure that women and men with comparable desire and potential have the same access to the experiences that make someone CFO-ready.

Those experiences can include being offered a variety of challenging roles and assignments; having access to networks; having committed sponsors, not just mentors; and to be given the opportunity to work closely with other members of the C-suite who will use their strength in the organization to pull forward deserving talent.

"With shortages in talent coming up as the top internal worrisome risk for CFOs quarter after quarter in Deloitte's CFO Signals survey, sitting CFOs could do themselves and their companies well to look broadly at, and champion, all talent in their finance organizations regardless of gender," adds Ms. Larson.

Greg Dickinson
Greg Dickinson, managing director, Deloitte LLP

About CFO Signals

Each quarter, CFO Signals tracks the thinking and actions of CFOs representing many of North America's largest and most influential organizations. The survey report summarizes CFOs' opinions in four areas: business environment, company priorities and expectations, finance priorities, and CFOs' personal priorities.

The Deloitte CFO Signals survey for the third quarter of 2017 was conducted during the two-week period opening August 7 and ended August 18, 2017. A total of 160 CFOs responded during this time. Seventy-three percent of respondents are from public companies, and 82 percent are from companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenue. Note that all responses were collected before the landfalls of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

For more information about Deloitte's CFO Signals, or to inquire about participating in the survey, please contact

paper swans
Did you find this useful?