CMOs became a more diverse group in 2019, study says

Linda J. Dodson

Dive Brief:

  • Forty-three percent of CMOs at the 100 most advertised brands were women in 2019, up from 36% in 2018 and 28% in 2017, according to a new report advisory firm Spencer Stuart shared with Marketing Dive. Among CMOs who started their position in 2019, 48% were women, up from 44% in 2018 and 38% in 2017.
  • The 16th annual CMO Tenure Study also found that 19% of new CMOs in 2019 were from racially and/or ethnically diverse backgrounds, compared to zero in 2018, while 14% of all chief marketers last year had diverse backgrounds, up from 10%.
  • Tenure in the role dipped two months in 2019. Sixty percent of CMOs have held the position for 36 months or less, consistent with 2018 and a slight lift over the 57% reported in 2017.

Dive Insight:

The latest edition of Spencer Stuart’s closely watched annual CMO Tenure Study highlights significant gains made by women and minorities within large advertisers. These findings are particularly noteworthy given the intense focus over the past few years on the lack of diversity within the ranks of the marketing industry, as well as in consumer-facing advertising. As such, the report suggests companies are taking the need for more diversity seriously.

Greater representation in 2019 coincides with a period of transition for the CMO role as marketing departments are being reimagined, an evolution that could come with new opportunities. Last fall, Forrester predicted that the CMOs will find themselves in a “desperate fight for survival” in 2020. The key will be establishing control over the customer experience in order to provide value, per the report.

With more women and minorities at the helm of the marketing department, these brands have an opportunity to develop more diverse voices in their advertising. Brands that show a broad variety of cultural and demographic groups in their advertising see improved perception among consumers and stock market gains, per a study from Deloitte-owned agency Heat.

However, since the Spencer Stuart report covers a period before the coronavirus pandemic hit, it’s too soon to know whether the growing diversity among CMOs will continue during a period of significant upheaval.

“As we all know, we live in a very different world today, and CMOs have seen their jobs change immensely — and quickly,” said Greg Welch, who leads Spencer Stuart’s marketing, sales and communications practice, in a statement. “​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.”

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