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Business & Economy

More incoming women CEOs than outgoing

19 May, 2014

 * But more likely to be forced out than men and less likely to be promoted from inside *

The numbers are moving in the right direction: in eight out of the last ten years, the share of women becoming CEOs of the world’s biggest public companies has been higher than the share of women leaving that office. And, over the past five years, the total share of women becoming CEOs was considerably higher than in the prior five-year period (3.6% versus 2.1%).
But despite the upward trend, the numbers are low and wobbly: women made up just 3% of new big-company CEOs in 2013, a 1.3 percentage point drop from 2012.
That’s according to Strategy&’s (formerly Booz & Company’s and now a member of the PwC Network) 14th annual Chief Executive Study, which examines CEO turnover and incoming and outgoing chief executives at the world’s 2,500 largest public companies. The current study looks at women CEOs over the past 10 years as well as overall succession trends with a focus on 2013’s incoming class of CEOs. The study authors do expect a bit more progress over the next quarter of a century.
The study has consistently found that boards most often elevate “insiders” – i.e., people who are currently with the company. In fact, 78% of men who were CEOs between 2004 and 2013 were insiders (vs. 22% outsiders). But only 65% of women who were CEOs in the same period were insiders (vs. 35% outsiders).
It’s also notable that women CEOs are more often forced out of their jobs – as opposed to leaving in a planned succession or via a merger – than men CEOs. Over the past ten years, 38% of women CEOs who left their positions were forced out, versus 27% of men CEOs.
The study found that in most other aspects, incoming men CEOs and women CEOs have similar profiles: CEOs of both genders rarely come from a region outside of the company headquarters region; they’re more likely to come from line, rather than staff, roles; they became CEO in their early 50s; and they have a tenure of about five years.
The study also found that the industry with the lowest share (0.8%) of women CEOs between 2004 and 2013 was the materials industry, while the countries with the highest share of women CEOs between 2004 and 2013 were the U.S. and Canada (3.2%). The country with the lowest percentage (0.8%) was Japan.