More CMO roles held by women and ethnic minorities

There are positive signs that companies are taking the importance of increasing diversity at the most senior levels of leadership more seriously.

There has been a significant increase in the number of women holding the title of chief marketing officer (CMO) in the US, as well as a major uptick in the number of CMOs from BAME backgrounds.

Almost half (43%) of CMOs were women in 2019 compared to 36% in 2018 and 28% in 2017, according to leadership advisory firm Spencer Stuart.

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.

The study, which is based on an analysis of the tenures of CMOs from 100 of the most-advertised US brands, also found that the average tenure for CMOs decreased from 43 months to 41 months.

More than half (60%) have held the role for 36 months or less, which is consistent with 2018 and a slight increase over 2017 (57%).

Spencer Stuart’s head of marketing, sales and communications, Greg Welch,  says it is important to note that the tenure findings reflect data only through the end of 2019.

“As we all know, we live in a very different world today, and CMOs have seen their jobs change immensely — and quickly,” Welch says.

“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.”

While these figures suggest some progress is being made, Marketing Week’s 2020 Career Salary Survey shows there is still much more to be done to improve diversity in UK boardrooms, which continue to be overwhelmingly white, middle class and male.

Of the 3,883 survey respondents, 88% identified as white, 4% as mixed race, 5% as Asian and 2% as black.

The gender bias is also clear given that 60.9% of all the survey respondents are female, yet their presence considerably lessens the more senior roles become.

Of the 39.9% of respondents whose company has a marketer on the board, 51.8% of the people in this role are male versus 48.2% female.