The C-level is getting a makeover, at least in the United States. A recent report from the global executive search and leadership consulting firm Spencer Stuart shows that the average age for new CEOs at S&P 500 companies dropped from 55.9 years old in 2021 to 53.8 years old in 2022 – the largest year-over-year drop in more than two decades.
According to the paper, the average CEO age at appointment had been rising over time, peaking at about 56 in 2021. This rise intensified during the pandemic, as boards leaned toward CEO candidates with more experience to draw on, as many as one in six newly appointed CEOs were over the age of 60. But this trend came to an end in 2022: nearly 30% of appointed CEOs were under the age of 50.
“Coupled with the slight spike in internal appointments, this age drop could indicate boards are adopting longer-term views on CEO succession again, and that they are willing to appoint leaders with less proven experience, but the raw potential to be great CEOs.”, the report says.
Increase in women securing CEO positions
The Spencer Stuart report shows that 13% of new CEOs were women in 2022 compared with 6% in 2021. Women also held the top role in more than 10% of Fortune 500 companies in January 2023, a first in the list’s decades-long history.
“As with younger CEOs ascending to the role, we see this as a positive shift among boards away from ‘the proven leader’ (who is typically white and male) and toward high-potential leaders who are likely to drive outsize impact over a longer runway. We look forward to seeing how this trend evolves.”, the authors conclude.
Source: 2022 S&P 500 CEO Transitions | Inc.com