This qualitative research study examined the role of the chief executive officer (CEO) in achieving an inclusive environment, specifically reviewing the messaging and actions of the CEO and how they impact executive women. Data were gathered from 15 executive women through interviews with predetermined, semi-structured questions. This study provides evidence that CEOs can create an inclusive environment by instilling an atmosphere of mutual respect, openly listening and valuing diverse perspectives, and encouraging healthy dialogue and debate. Internal competition, an imbalance of power, and perceived bias on the part of the CEO hindered participants from feeling like equal partners in the C-suite. Additional research studies using a larger sample size of female and male executives would be beneficial to determine if the preliminary findings hold true and to gain a comprehensive view of CEO behaviors from a diverse participant population.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (MA) -- Organization Development; Women executives; Corporate culture; Organizational effectiveness

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graziadio Business School



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Chesley, Julie;