Female CEOs are more than 10% more likely to be sacked than their male counterparts, according to statistics from Strategy&’s Annual CEO Study.
The study, which looks at incoming and outgoing CEOs across 2,500 of the world’s largest public companies, revealed that over the past 10 years, there have been 75% more women in the incoming than the outgoing classes. If this trend continues, Strategy& predicts that by 2040, a third of all new CEO appointments will be women.
However, according to the results, female CEOs are significantly more likely to be fired: 38% of female CEOs have been forced out of office, compared with 27% of their male contemporaries.
The findings also show a marked difference in the way male and female CEOs were recruited. While the majority of male CEOs (78%) are recruited from within the company, this is only true for 65% of women.
Carolin Oelschlegel, principle at Strategy&, says it is the recruitment of outsiders, rather than women, that is most likely to result in a firing.
“The survey shows that CEOs hired internally have better business results over the long term than those who are brought in,” she says. “When predominantly male boards decide they want to hire a woman, it could be because the role is seen as too difficult and other men have turned it down. The woman is going into a job with a high chance of failure to begin with.”
Oelschlegel warns against reading too much into the percentage results, however. “The survey found 20 women who had been forced out of their role in comparison to 800 men. Perhaps there is a bias against women, so they are judged more harshly.”
With 35% of female CEOs recruited from outside the company, it’s clear that while some companies are working to reduce the gender gap at the top, they’re not doing it by improving the chances of internal candidates. This echoes the trend for increasing the number of women on boards. Whilst the number of female non-executive directors in the FTSE 100 has increased from 15% in 2012 to 25% today, the number making the executive board has barely moved, from 5.5% in 2012 to 6.9% today.
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