after 12 years of leading the world's second-largest food and beverage company. Her departure leaves only 24 women as chief executives of S&P 500 companies, or less than 5 percent.
"We're moving in the wrong direction," CBS News financial contributor Mellody Hobson said of the decline. "Let's just think about it from an absolute standpoint. Last year, there were 32 women. Now there are 24. Less than a handful are women of color. This is going backwards ... Some have left for performance reasons. But at the end of the day, we're talking about a disappearing act here, a shrinking number of women, and that is not good."
Hobson, who serves as the president of Ariel Investments and sits on the board of Starbucks, said companies need to focus on getting more women in the pipeline for senior roles and creating incentives for diverse leadership teams.
"When you look at the women that are ready to step into that role in senior positions, we just don't have enough women there. And part of that again is just management and boards and leadership have to commit themselves, and I think you get what you incent. You have to incent people to have diverse teams.
According to research from non-profit organization Catalyst, last year 23 percent of senior positions were held by women. This year, it's 21 percent.
"We are going backward. And so boards have to really, you know, see that and step up," Hobson said.