Marketing

Women CMOs outnumber men for the first time, study finds

But CMO tenure is still “remarkably low” compared to other C-suite roles.
article cover

SNL/NBC via Giphy

· less than 3 min read

Get marketing news you'll actually want to read

The email newsletter guaranteed to bring you the latest stories shaping the marketing and advertising world, like only the Brew can.

After a week of news about what women may lose, it’s nice to hear about gains being made. In this case: more representation in the C-suite.

According to this year’s CMO Tenure Study from Spencer Stuart, women CMOs outnumber men for the first time since the corporate headhunting firm started tracking gender. The study, which looked at Ad Age’s 2021 list of top 100 advertisers, found that women made up 51% of CMOs in 2021. (For comparison, it was around 23% in 2016.)

Zoom out: Its figures are in line with other studies on the topic. According to an ANA study of more than 800 companies conducted last year, women hold 55% of top marketing roles.

Go deeper: Representation may be growing as new people step into the CMO role.

  • According to Spencer Stuart’s study, 71% of first-time CMOs in 2021 were women. That’s up from 52% in 2020 and 31% in 2016.
  • Beyond that, 18% of the incoming CMOs in 2021 came from “underrepresented racial or ethnic groups,” up from 11% in 2020.

But it’s not all sunshine: Even with positive gains among the newest CMO class, the study found that racial and ethnic representation is still lagging overall. Just 15% of CMOs in 2021 were non-white, only a slight increase from 13% in 2020.

+1: Additionally, average CMO tenure was found to be “remarkably low” at 40 months, about half that of CEOs. High CMO turnover was a phenomenon before the pandemic, but high-profile exits over the last year, like Dunkin’s Rafael Acevedo or Netflix’s Bozoma Saint John, have kept it top of mind.—KH

Get marketing news you'll actually want to read

The email newsletter guaranteed to bring you the latest stories shaping the marketing and advertising world, like only the Brew can.