Female CMOs are now in the majority at top companies, survey shows

By our News Team | 2022

But the average tenure of a CMO at a company continues to be relatively short – about half the tenure of the average CEO.

Female Chief Marketing Officers now outnumber men CMOs for the first time in the latest annual study done by an international executive recruitment company. The study is US-based and analyses the CMOs in the Ad Age top 100 advertisers. 

The findings show that, in 2021, 51 percent of the CMOs in these businesses were female, which has never happened before in the study conducted by Spencer Stuart since 2016. Analysing the 2021 statistics in greater depth shows that, when it comes to CMOs who took up new roles that year, 71% were women.

By way of comparison, the 2016 study showed that only 23% of all CMOs in the companies analysed were females. And only 31% of incoming CMOs were female.

“But consistent with last year, ethnic and racial diversity continues to lag. Overall, just 15% of CMOs in 2021 were from a traditionally underrepresented racial or ethnic group, a modest increase from 13% in 2020,” the researchers at Spencer Stuart say.

Chief Marketing Officers

Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels

“This is surprising given the increased demand we are seeing from clients for leaders from diverse backgrounds and their commitment to making real progress in this area. The good news is that the freshman class is slightly more diverse, with 18% of the incoming CMOs in 2021 coming from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group, compared with 11% in 2020.”

CMOs average tenure much shorter than the CEOs

The study also measures the average time that CMOs stay in their job, with the latest figures continuing to be surprisingly low and on a par with the previous year’s study.

“Average CMO tenure remained remarkably low at 40 months, tying last year as the lowest level in more than a decade … We expect the continued turnover has been the result of companies attempting to improve their overall diversity, and has been compounded by the ongoing pandemic, which has put pressure on many sectors,” Spencer Stuart said.

The latest findings also show that CEOs now stay in their roles more than twice as long as CMOs. 

“Boards were reticent to change CEOs during a crisis. In 2021, average CEO tenure was more than double the CMO tenure at 85 months. We anticipate that as this new class of CMOs (some of whom already fit culturally as they were promoted into the role) will enjoy longer run rates in the future,” the researchers noted.

“Yet, we expect continued, intense pressure on marketing leaders to drive profitable growth and meet changing transformation demands and resultant volatility.”

Customer Data

Customer Data

With the increasingly urgent need to find ways to obtain first-party client data, loyalty apps could provide one solution.

Read More »


Nigerian-based company says consumer demand saw its orders increase by 40 percent year-on-year and revenue rise by 44 percent.

Read More »
Content Marketing

Content Marketing

The challenge is to find content marketing specialists who produce quality content that performs well and delivers on business objectives.

Read More »