As CMO appointments rose in 2020, women lost ground, study says


Marketing Dive | April 9, 2021

The Marketing Dive article, "As CMO appointments rose in 2020, women lost ground, study says," was based on the Russell Reynolds Associates paper, "The Pandemic Has Created New Opportunities for Customer-Centric Leaders." The article is excerpted below.

Demand for CMOs rose during the second half of 2020, as indicated by Russell Reynolds Associates (RRA)'s finding that hiring activity picked up following the early travails of the COVID-19 crisis. The study aligns with other research that indicates chief marketers have won back a larger place in corporate leadership as brands look to navigate pandemic-related challenges, including putting forward resonant messages to uncertain consumers and adjusting for changing technology mandates. 

While fewer CMO jobs went to women, diversity was greater than for other C-level appointments, except for heads of marketing and communications (56% female) and chief experience officers (50%), per RRA. However, most sales roles skewed toward men, making it a laggard compared with other C-suite jobs.

"If organizations want to elevate diversity and inclusion, which is now an expectation of customers and stakeholders, they need to start diversifying their hires and promotes," according to RRA. "The past year has sparked a renewed sense of social purpose across North America. Customers are choosing businesses that do not just preach diversity, equity and inclusion, but practice it."

Businesses also need to do a better job at cultivating in-house marketing talent to cope with what RRA describes as an ongoing "CMO succession crisis." The situation is in flux after many corporations implemented hiring freezes, leading executives to look for "step-up candidates and high potential marketers" within their organizations, according to the report.

"As organizations seek to adapt to this new landscape, they must be prepared to make this shift to a customer-driven, digital world, and to realign leadership capabilities to meet the needs of today’s in-charge customer," the report said. "Getting the right go-to-market leadership in position is the first step."

To read the full article, click here.

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As CMO appointments rose in 2020, women lost ground, study says