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Women CEOs more likely to be forced out

06 May 2014

Women CEOs are more likely to be fired than their male counterparts, according to new research.

Looking over a period of 10 years, from 2004 to 2013, a higher percentage of women have been forced out of their roles – 38% of women compared to 27% of men.

Strategy&, who carried out the research, found that over the last decade, when looking at three different outgoing reasons – M&A activity; forced departure; and planned departure – forced departure was the main reason for more female outgoing CEOs than male outgoing CEOs.

Additionally, the survey found that when it came to looking for a new CEO, a higher percentage of CEOs recruited from outside the company were women – 35% of women CEOs were recruited from outside in comparison to just 22% of men.

Senior Partner at Strategy&, Gary L. Neilson said: ‘That women CEOs are more often outsiders may be an indication that companies have not been able to cultivate enough female executives in-house. So when boards look for new CEOs, they necessarily find a larger pool of female candidates outside their own organizations.’ This is another example of a lack of a talent pipeline in organisations encouraging women on to boards and other senior management roles.

On the positive side, over the last 10 years, Strategy& have seen 75% more women coming in as CEOs than outgoing, and predict that by 2040, women will make up about one third of new CEO appointments.

Senior Partner at Strategy&, Ken Favaro says that the prediction is ‘based on a 10 year trend in our data’ and will come about as a result of ‘ever higher education of women, continuing entry of women into the business workforce, and changing social norms of corporate leadership around the world’.

Strategy& state that they ‘focus on incoming and outgoing CEOs – rather than all CEOs – because determining what happens at critical decision points can help us understand what companies are looking for in their CEO and how the role is changing’.

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