2013: The lives and times of the CEO and women CEOs

In our 14th year of examining CEO successions and success among the world’s top 2,500 public companies, Strategy& focused particularly on women CEOs over the last 10 years.

Women CEOs are still rare — just 3 percent of this year’s incoming class — but they are becoming more prevalent, and we expect that trend to accelerate. In terms of professional background, we found fewer differences between female and male CEOs than we anticipated, but two particularly notable ones: Women are more often hired from outside their company, and women are more often forced out of office.

We also traveled through time to explore how the role of the CEO has evolved over the past 100 years and made a few predictions for what we think that role will be in 2040 — when today’s graduates will be stepping into the CEO position. By 2040, we project that women will make up about a third of new CEO appointments. In addition, CEOs will take charge of strategy, edging out a separate chief strategy officer role, and the chief human resources officer role will expand. These HR leaders will be charged with ensuring that the company has all the resources it needs, including natural resources — they’ll be chief resource officers. With CEO tenures averaging about five years, every leader your company chooses between now and 2040 will give you a chance to move closer to the ideal CEO of tomorrow.

Key publications

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This year’s report focuses on women CEOs over the last 10 years, the fact that women CEOs are slowly becoming more prevalent, and where women and men CEOs do — and don’t — differ. It also highlights many details on the incoming and outgoing classes of CEOs in 2013 and major trends in corporate governance, such as dual CEO/chairman appointments.
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From 100 years back to a quarter century ahead, the evolution of the chief executive officer.
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CEO turnover in 2013 was largely business as usual — 14.4 percent of CEOs left office.
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Women CEOs are becoming more prevalent, and we expect that trend to accelerate.

Additional insights

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View this one-page graphic highlighting the data on 10 years of women CEOs.
watch videos
In three videos, the authors of the 2013 Chief Executive Study discuss women CEOs of the last 10 years, CEO turnover in 2013, and the evolution of the CEO role over 100 years as well as our predictions for the role in 2040.
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Read our global press release for the 2013 Chief Executive Study.

Past studies