CMO Tenure Keeps Dropping, At Lowest Point Since 2009

May 24, 2021

This article is included in these additional categories:

Business of Marketing | Demographics & Audiences | Featured | Men | Staffing | Women

SpencerStuart Average CMO Tenure 2004 2020 May2021At a time when race and ethnicity are at the forefront of the public conversation, it appears that the ethnic or racial makeup of US CMOs has taken a turn in the wrong direction. The latest annual analysis from Spencer Stuart reports that by the end of 2020, only 12% of those individuals new to the role of CMO from the 100 most-advertised US brands were from diverse backgrounds, down from 19% in 2019.

The decrease in racially or ethnically diverse CMO candidates isn’t just with newcomers to the role. Only 13% of all CMOs from the analyzed brands in 2020 were from diverse backgrounds, down from 14% in 2019. Unfortunately, these figures from the top 100 most-advertised brands are indicative of the gap of racial and ethnic representation not only among those in the top role but also across the overall field of marketing

Percentage of Females in the CMO Role Increases

While ethnic and racial diversity remains low in the role of CMO, one area that continues to see improvement is in the share of women in the role of CMO. In 2019, some 43% of CMOs at the 100 most-advertised brands in the US were women. That figure increased to 47% in 2020. As a matter of perspective, that’s more than twice the percentage of female CMOs as there were in 2016.

The share of new female CMOs has also risen. Among all of the CMOs at the analyzed companies new to the role in 2020, about half (52%) were women, up from 48% in 2019 and 44% in 2018. The continued increase in the percentage of women in top marketing positions goes a long way for those who are eager to see advances in gender equality.

CMO Tenure Decreases

The average time spent in the role of CMO now stands at 40 months. This is less than the average tenure of 41.1 months in 2019, and continues the trend of decreasing tenure seen in the past couple of years.

Likewise, the median average decreased to 25.5 months in 2020, down from 30 months in 2019. It is also the lowest it has been in the past 10 years.

First-Time CMOs Also Down

While the percentage of first-time CMOs had been steadily growing over the past 3 years, 2020 saw a noticeable decrease in CMOs that were new to the role. Some 62% of CMOs were in that role for the first time in 2020, compared to 72% in 2019 and 71% in 2018. Indeed, the share of new-to-the-role CMOs is the lowest it’s been since 2016, when this data was first analyzed. Perhaps in a pandemic year organizations sought out experience…

Read more here.

About the Data: Findings are based on an analysis of the tenures of CMOs from 100 of the most-advertised US brands as of December 31, 2020.

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