In just over two decades, the number of Fortune 500 companies led by women has increased from 4 to 53. It is the first time that over 10 per cent of America’s largest corporations have women in their top leadership roles. Yet, globally, female CEOs haven’t achieved the same presence. Less than 5 per cent of the world’s largest businesses have women in charge of their organisations.
According to a recent KPMG study, around 18 per cent of family business leaders are women, but of the world’s top 500 family firms, less than 6 per cent have a female in the CEO position — somewhat better than their non-family-owned peers. Women account for 23 per cent of board seats within the largest 500 family businesses globally. Whether from the boardroom or the C-suite, women oversee some of the world’s leading family enterprises. Together, the 10 largest women-led family firms generate more than $370 billion in annual revenue.
Here are 10 women leading some of the world’s largest family enterprises:
Company: New Hope Liuhe Co., Ltd.
Annual Revenue: $20.3 Billion
Founded in 1998, New Hope Liuhe Co., Ltd. is one of China’s leading integrated agri-food businesses. The company’s animal feed production capacity tops 26 million tonnes and is manufactured through New Hope Liuhe’s network of over 200 domestic and international fodder mills. New Hope Liuhe sells 2.34 million tons of meat products annually and is considered the world’s premier poultry producer. The company operates in over 20 countries.
Liu Chang succeeded her father and company founder, Liu Yonghao, as New Hope Liuhe’s Chair in 2013. Liu Chang is also the company’s director and serves as director of the firm’s parent company, New Hope Group. Under Liu Chang’s direction, New Hope Liuhe has made technology a core driver of its operations.
Company: Sodexo SA
Annual Revenue: $25 Billion
Sophie Bellon succeeded her father, Sodexo SA founder Pierre Bellon, as Chair of Sodexo’s board of directors in 2016. She joined the business in 1994 and contributed to Sodexo’s integration strategy following the acquisition of the UK’s Gardner Merchant and Marriott Management Services in the United States. In 2008, Sophie led the corporate services business in France as the unit’s CEO. She later became head of facilities management activities in France. In 2013, Sophie was appointed vice chairwoman of Sodexo’s board of directors and assumed responsibility for the company’s research, development and innovation strategy. Sophie Bellon has acted as Sodexo’s CEO since 2022.
Formed in 1966, Sodexo is a global leader in food services. The group’s portfolio of activities also includes facilities management, hospitality services, and employee benefit solutions. Sodexo operates in 53 countries, serving 100 million consumers daily.
Company: Fidelity Investments Inc.
Annual Revenue: $25.2 Billion
Fidelity Investments Inc. serves over 42 million individual investors, manages employee benefits programs for nearly 23,000 businesses, and supports more than 3,600 advisory firms through its investment technology solutions. Established in 1946, Edward C. Johnson II served as the company’s initial president and helped develop its first mutual fund — a financial product it is now known for. Edward Johnson’s granddaughter, Abigail Johnson, joined Fidelity Investments in 1988 as an analyst and portfolio manager. In 2016, Abigail succeeded her father, Edward Johnson III, as the company’s chair. She would go on to modernise Fidelity’s financial products, eventually making it one of the first investment firms to offer crypto investment options.
Fidelity operates in 10 countries across North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, with over 70,000 associates in more than 200 investor centres.
Annemiek Fentener van Vlissingen
Company: SHV Holdings
Annual Revenue: $28 Billion
Originally founded as a coal trading company in 1896, today, SHV Holdings is a global and diversified multinational business. The Dutch-based organisation’s family of companies include heavy lifting and transport business Mammoet, cash-and-carry wholesaler Makro, industrial services specialist Eriks, leading global animal nutrition and aqua feed solutions company Nutreco, private equity investment firm NPM Capital, and energy distribution company SHV Energy. The group’s operations span 79 countries and employ a workforce of over 60,000. Annemiek Fentener van Vlissingen was appointed chair of the supervisory board in 2005 and has played a key role in shaping SHV’s leadership since taking the position.
Company: Enterprise Holdings Inc.
Annual Revenue: $30 Billion
Chrissy Taylor joined Enterprise as a management trainee in 2000. She would go on to develop the rental car giant’s European consumer market from 2006 to 2008, financially restructure fleet management from 2008 to 2011, and lead Enterprise’s North American operations from 2013 to 2016. In 2020, she was named CEO of Enterprise Holdings, representing the Taylor family’s third generation to head the firm since Chrissy’s grandfather, Jack Taylor, founded the business in 1957.
Chrissy Taylor serves as Enterprise’s president and CEO, overseeing the company’s three well-known rental vehicle brands, National, Alamo, and Enterprise. Enterprise Holdings operates over 10,000 branches globally and maintains a fleet of over 2.1 million vehicles.
Company: Paramount Global
Annual Revenue: $30 Billion
The first woman to maintain a stake of its size in a U.S. media business, Shari Redstone became Paramount Global board chair in 2019 after facilitating the $12 billion merger between CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc; three years after her father, media mogul Sumner Redstone stepped away from the business in 2016. Shari Redstone serves as chair, CEO, and president of her family’s motion picture exhibition company, National Amusements, and is a controlling shareholder of Paramount Global.
Paramount Global’s popular brands reach over 4.3 billion subscribers in over 180 countries and include MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, and CBS.
Annual Revenue: $36 Billion
Founded in 1969 by Henri Coisne and his brothers, Sonepar remains the world’s leading B2B distributor of electrical products, solutions, and related services. Through its network of 80 brands, the group operates in 40 countries and employs 44,000 associates. The family’s holding company, Colam Entreprendre, controls a majority share of Sonepar and supports its activities.
Marie-Christine Coisne-Roquette serves as Colam Entreprendre’s chair. She is the holding company’s permanent representative in Sonepar while also directing Sonepar’s activities as its board’s chairperson, a post she’s held since 2016. Marie-Christine has been credited for the group’s recent growth after she consolidated its family ownership and reorganised Sonepar’s structure.
Randa Duncan Williams
Company: Enterprise Products Partners LP
Annual Revenue: $58 Billion
In 1994, Randa Williams joined the company her father, Dan Duncan, co-founded after practising law at a Texas firm. She served as Enterprise Products Partners’ co-chair until taking sole possession of the post after her father’s death in 2010.
Formed in 1968 as a wholesale marketer of natural gas liquids, Enterprise Products grew its integrated energy network and services to offer producers and consumers natural gas, natural gas liquids, crude oil, and petrochemical products. The group’s activities connect domestic consumers and international markets with producers from North American supply basins.
Louis Dreyfus Company International Holding B.V.
Annual Revenue: $59.9 Billion
Before his death in 2009, Robert Louis-Dreyfus named his wife, Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, trustee of the Akira BV trust that held a majority stake in the commodities firm his family founded in 1851. Margarita succeeded her husband as chair of Louis Dreyfus Company International Holding B.V. and restructured many aspects of the business, including divesting its energy trading interests in 2012. Today, Margarita Louis-Dreyfus oversees the company’s direction and strategy in her role as chairperson of the supervisory board.
The Louis-Dreyfus group’s diversified portfolio spans the entire agriculture and food value chain. Its activities also include cosmetics & pharmaceuticals, textiles & fibres, transportation, and bioenergy. The Louis-Dreyfus Company operates in 180 locations worldwide, in over 100 different countries, and employs around 17,000 people.
Company: Country Garden Holdings Company Limited
Annual Revenue: $60 Billion
In March 2023, Yang Huiyan took over as chair of Country Garden Holdings after her father, Yang Guoqiang, retired from the real estate business he founded. A former farmer, Yang Guoqiang grew Country Garden into one of China’s largest real estate developers a little over a decade after launching the business in 1992. Country Garden initiated a record-setting $1.7 billion IPO in 2007, and today, the company’s list of projects tops 3,200. Combined with its joint ventures and associates, the group delivered nearly 700,000 industry-leading housing units in 2022.
Yang Huiyan joined Country Garden in 2005, receiving a majority stake in the business from her father at the time. In 2018, she began serving as the company’s co-chair, managing the firm’s operations jointly with her father. Along with her new position as Country Garden’s sole chair, she remains the group’s executive director.