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Female CEOs underrepresented in surge of new appointments

 — 1 minute read

Only 6 per cent of CEOs internationally are women, according to a new report.

A new report has found that women accounted for only 13 per cent of new CEO appointments globally in the first half of 2021.

While describing the number of female CEOs as “very low”, recruiting firm Heidrick & Struggles reported that the proportion had more than doubled compared to the preceding six months when women made up just 6 per cent of appointments.

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“This is likely the result of the combined impact of regulatory requirements for gender balance in corporate ranks implemented by many countries in our study, stakeholder pressure, and a conscious decision to gain fresh perspectives through a fairer gender balance,” the report said. 

In the 24 regions studied by Heidrick & Struggles, women held 6 per cent of the 1,095 CEO positions at the largest publicly listed companies as of July.

Seven per cent of CEOs in Australia and New Zealand were found to be women, behind the world leader Ireland on 14 per cent but ahead of Canada, Italy and Mexico who had no female leaders at their biggest companies.

A recent report found that women currently make up around one third of ASX 200 boards.

Total CEO appointments surged to a record 103 in the first half of 2021, up from 49 in the second half of 2020. Sixty-two per cent of CEO appointments were made internally compared to 53 per cent a year earlier.

Thirty-two per cent of CEOs had C-suite experience in a role other than CEO, CFO or COO in the first half, up from 17 per cent in H2 2020 and 13 per cent in H1 2020.

“The appointments in early 2021 provide a first-look at the CEOs that will lead in a post-pandemic era,” said Heidrick & Struggles vice-chairman Jeff Sanders.

“The top job, like so many others, has been altered by the rapid changes that have taken place over the last 18 months.”

Compared to their predecessors, new CEOs were found more likely to be women (11 per cent), to be foreign nationals (30 per cent) and to have cross-border experience (46 per cent).

“CEOs are quickly becoming the standard-bearer for a wide-range of issues from cyber security, sustainability, social justice and diversity, equity and inclusion, to inspiring employees and navigating rapid digital and societal transformation,” said Heidrick & Struggles vice-chairman Bonnie Gwin.

“These changes are requiring a new CEO profile that brings a wide and differing range of experiences in life and business to the role.”

Female CEOs underrepresented in surge of new appointments

Only 6 per cent of CEOs internationally are women, according to a new report.

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Jon Bragg

Jon Bragg

Jon Bragg is a journalist for Momentum Media's Investor Daily, nestegg and ifa. He enjoys writing about a wide variety of financial topics and issues and exploring the many implications they have on all aspects of life.

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