DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co.'s promotion of veteran executive Joy Falotico as the first woman to lead its credit unit puts the company a step closer to gender parity with General Motors Co. among the U.S. automakers' inner circles.
Falotico is among seven women in Ford's 44-member top executive group led by CEO Mark Fields. In June, five of GM's 21 corporate officers were women, including CEO Mary Barra, according to its website. Ford's 14-member board has two female members while six of GM's 12 directors are women.
"Joy's promotion into this position is an outstanding step, and it's definitely a signal to employees, shareholders and anybody watching of Ford's willingness to develop and promote top, top women," said Anne Doyle, author of "Powering Up! How America's Women Achievers Become Leaders" and a former Ford communications executive. "But in the context of that, I would say Ford has a long way to go. There's no question that Ford is in General Motors' rearview mirror. I hope Mark Fields is not content to stay there."
Gender parity is a growing focus among activists and investors as the pace of women's progress slows. The World Economic Forum estimates that it may take 80 years, at the current rate, for women to reach parity in leadership at companies across the globe. Women captured less than 3 percent of new CEO positions last year, the lowest since 2011, according to a PwC study of 2,500 global public companies released in April.
"Ford is committed to hiring the best and brightest leaders, while continually expanding the diversity of our entire team," said Bradley Carroll, a Ford spokesman.