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If women in high management roles feel as though their positions are rather precarious, they might have good reason to, according to new research.
High achieving businesswomen are more vulnerable than male businessmen when it comes to be fired, research from global management consultancy Strategy& has found in their paper, The 2013 Chief Executive Study.
In fact, women are forced out of the chief executive officer position more than a third of the time, while only a quarter of men experience the same.
The unstable position of women in power has been highlighted in recent months with two high profile CEOs being pushed off the edge.
Both Jill Abramson, the first female managing editor of the New York Times, and Natalie Nougayrède, the editor in chief of the French title Le Monde, both announced on the same day they were leaving their posts.
According to the study, which examined CEO turnover and the incoming class of CEOs at the world’s largest 2,500 public companies over the past 10 years, women only represent 3% of new CEOs and they are forced out of their jobs sooner.
This is necessarily because they’re being set up to fail, but because women are more often hired from outside the company than from within (35% of women as compared with 22% of men).
“That women CEOs are more often outsiders may be an indication that companies have not been able to cultivate enough female executives in-house,” says Gary L. Neilson, senior partner, in the report. “So when boards look for new CEOs, they necessarily ﬁnd a larger pool of female candidates outside their own organisations.”
Coming in from the outside also most likely means women are more vulneerable because they don’t know the organisation and are inherently in tune with the culture. It could take them longer to solve problems than someone who was brought in internally, and it’s possible they might not have been given the time to prove themselves.
The research also found that, slowly but surely, more women are making it to the CEO position.
In eight of the last 10 years, the proportion of women coming in to CEO roles has been larger than the proportion outgoing, which indicates female CEOs are becoming more prevalent. Over the past ﬁve years, the share of women in the incoming CEO class (3.6%) was considerably higher than in the prior ﬁve-year period (2.1%).
Although, women made up just 3% of the incoming class in 2013, a 1.3% percentage point drop from 2012.
“As much as one third of the incoming class of CEOs will be women by 2040, based on a 10 year trend in our data, ever higher education of women, continuing entry of women into the business workforce, and changing social norms of corporate leadership around the world,” says co-author Ken Favaro, senior partner.