More Women Take CEO Jobs But Parity Still Decades Away

Chief Executive OfficersCEO Succession
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Luke Meynell
October 20, 2023
3 min read
Chief Executive OfficersCEO Succession
Executive Summary
Despite record CEO turnover and more women becoming CEO than ever before, progress toward gender parity is too slow. 


Our analysis of the 1,822 companies listed on the world’s leading stock indices reveals 142 CEOs left their positions so far this year. This compares to 148 across the same period in 2022, which was a record year for CEO turnover.

This high level of departures should be creating an opportunity to accelerate progress on gender parity among CEOs—and it is, to an extent. In 2023 so far, 15% (on average) of those taking a CEO role have been women. This is up 9.7% across the same period in 2018.

This picture varies around the world:


The proportion of women CEOs appointed in Q3 2023


20% ( 2 )

S&P 500

25% ( 1 )

ASX 200

0% ( 0 )

FTSE 100


Women are still vastly underrepresented in the top job:

Women CEOs in the major global indexes



S&P 500


FTSE 100




While it’s positive to see the corporate world making some progress toward gender parity in CEO roles, it’s happening far too slowly. At the current rate of change, the world’s leading stock indices won’t see the same number of men and women in CEO seats until the next century.


The CEO gender tenure gap

Our research also shows that not only are fewer women being appointed to CEO, but their time in the role is much shorter than their male counterparts. Women’s tenure is on average 5.2 years, compared with 8.1 years for men. Interestingly, the size of this gap varies across the globe.


A closer look at the CEO gender tenure gap around the world

Only in the NSE Nifty 50 do women CEOs stay in the role longer than men.


CAC 40
-7.7-year difference

S&P 500
-3.6-year difference

FTSE 100
-0.3-year difference

NSE Nifty 50
+1.7-year difference


There are a number of reasons why women may be leaving these roles sooner than men. Factors such as gender-bias, discrimination and workplace support and culture all play a part. Women leaders may also be more inclined to leave the organization in search of better positions and opportunities, with CEO to chair and Board roles becoming increasingly popular pathways.

If the tenure gap between men and women persists, it will potentially make it harder for industries to reach gender parity, suggesting more needs to be done to not only appoint women into the top seat but retain them.


Factors contributing to high CEO turnover

From COVID-19 to wars and economic uncertainly, businesses have faced unprecedented challenges in recent years. And the pressure has been on CEOs to steer their organizations through it.

CEOs, who were planning to step down earlier, may now feel that they can do so without risking further turmoil for their organizations. While others are ready for new opportunities after navigating such a difficult period.

Boards are also increasingly looking for fresh leadership. Many are now in a position to re-examine their strategic goals—and question whether or not they have the right CEO in place to address them.

As higher levels of volatility and uncertainty in G7 economies persist, we expect annual CEO turnover to remain high in the years to come. This potentially opens the door to a greater number of women candidates and could help accelerate the world toward more equal gender representation in senior leadership.


What does this mean for companies?

When a CEO leaves, it can disrupt operations and create uncertainty for employees and investors. In light of these trends, it will become increasingly important for companies to prepare for CEO turnover and have the succession plans in place to ensure a smooth transition.

A CEO succession plan should identify which of the organization’s current leaders have the potential to become CEO and what support and development is required to prepare them for the role.

While CEO turnover presents a challenge for companies, it’s also an opportunity. When a CEO leaves, the company is in a better position to reset and reevaluate its longer-term position. It can then identify and appoint the best leadership to deliver the next phase of its evolution. Companies that manage CEO turnover effectively are likely to emerge stronger than ever.


Explore the full CEO turnover data