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Women & Minorities Make Significant Gains Within the CMO Ranks in 2019

Average Tenure for Chief Marketing Officers Drops by Two Months Since 2018

CHICAGO, May 27, 2020 — Today, leadership advisory firm Spencer Stuart announced a significant increase in the number of women holding the title of chief marketing officer (CMO) at leading U.S. consumer brand companies. The firm also reported a major uptick in the number of CMOs with ethnically and/or racially diverse backgrounds; positive signs that companies are taking seriously the importance of increasing diversity at the most senior levels of leadership.

The study also found that the average tenure for CMOs decreased from 43 months to 41 months. These data are the result of Spencer Stuart’s 16th annual CMO Tenure Study, which examined trends and profiles in marketing leadership and implications for organizations. The study is based on an analysis of the tenures of CMOs from 100 of the most-advertised U.S. brands as of December 31, 2019.

Top Findings on CMO Tenure

  • There was a significant jump in the number of women in the CMO role in 2019; 43% of CMOs were women, compared to 36% in 2018 and 28% in 2017.
  • Of those CMOs who began their tenure in 2019, 48% were women, up from 44% in 2018 and 38% in 2017.
  • Of all new CMOs, 19% were from racially and/or ethnically diverse backgrounds, compared to zero in 2018.
  • Overall, CMO tenure in 2019 decreased slightly, by two months; more than half (60%) have held the role for 36 months or less, consistent with 2018 and a slight increase over 2017 (57%).

“It’s important to note that our tenure findings reflect data only through the end of 2019,” said Greg Welch, who leads Spencer Stuart’s Marketing, Sales & Communications Officer Practice and who initiated the CMO Tenure Study in 2004. “As we all know, we live in a very different world today, and CMOs have seen their jobs change immensely — and quickly. Traditional best practices do not apply in many cases, with some companies changing their business models and others simply fighting for survival. Looking ahead to the coming weeks and months, CMOs will be tasked with balancing the demands of ‘now,’ with an eye toward sustaining longer-term viability.”

Percentage of Female CMOs 2016 – 2019

2019
43%
2018
36%
2017
28%
2016
23%

“It’s incredibly promising to see that the number of women in the CMO role continues to climb,” said Welch. “It’s also encouraging that companies hired a considerably more diverse class of CMOs. This positive trend needs to continue through the development of the next generation of marketers, which includes a robust number of minorities in marketing leadership roles.”

14%

of all CMOs come from diverse backgrounds, up from 10% in 2018

19%

of new CMOs come from diverse backgrounds, up from 0% in 2018

Snapshot: Average CMO Tenure

Average CMO Tenure

Median CMO Tenure

2019
41.1
30
2018
42.5
27.5
2017
44
31
2016
42
27
2015
44.1
26.5
2014
48
35.5
2013
45.4
34
2012
45.1
33
2011
43.3
36

Average tenure remained relatively steady, decreasing by two months on average from 43 to 41 months. As in recent years, the study also looked at median tenure, which offers a different perspective on the central tendency of the data that is far less impacted by “outliers.” Median tenure increased from 27.5 months in 2018 to 30 months in 2019.

CMO Tenure Full Data

Tenure (Mos) Median (Mos) Female Diverse First-Time

2019

41.1

30

43%

14%

72%

2018

42.5

27.5

36%

10%

71%

2017

44

31

28%

11%

68%

2016

42

27

23%

11%

70%

2015

44.1

26.5

-

-

-

2014

48

35.5

-

-

-

2013

45.4

34

-

-

-

2012

45.1

33

-

-

-

2011

43.3

36

-

-

-

2010

42

-

-

-

-

2009

34.7

-

-

-

-

2008

28.4

-

-

-

-

2007

26.8

-

-

-

-

2006

23.2

-

-

-

-

2005

23.5

-

-

-

-

2004

23.6

-

-

-

-

"-" denotes data not available.