Female CMOs More Prevalent In The U.S. Than The UK

Women have progressed in landing C-level positions in the U.S., but are still struggling in the UK, per research from Act-On Software.

The CMO Index Report looks at the evolving role of today’s chief marketing officer in the U.S. and the UK. The reports shows that 56% of the CMOs identified in the U.S. are women — higher than can often be expected for executive roles, and perhaps the result of larger conversations around corporate diversity. That compares to just 40% of CMOs in the UK who are identified as women. 

The study, which drew on data from the FTSE 100 (a share index of the 100 UK companies with the highest market capitalization) and the Inc. 500 list of mid-market companies (businesses with a revenue range of 50M to 1B, employee size of 100-10,000), sought to clarify and understand what modern CMOs look like — their typical background, their qualifications, and their pedigree; about 70 CMOs (or equivalent titles) in the U.S. and about 80 in the UK.



“The modern CMO’s charter is expanding to address all the areas that impact revenue generation — these days accounting for everything from brand awareness and customer acquisition to customer retention, advocacy and loyalty,” says Michelle Huff, Act-On’s chief marketing officer, in a release. “Given the growing influence of this role within the business, it’s important to better understand and study the background and characteristics of successful CMOs today.”

Education carries weight, with 30% of CMOs in the UK and U.S having master’s certifications and higher, which, in the U.S. at least, marks a climb from past years. 

On average, CMOs in the U.S. tend to serve their companies for at least five years before earning executive titles, while CMOs in the UK often served their companies for eight to nine years. American CMOs also serve at least four other companies before ultimately reaching the C-level. The CMO role typically sees the most turnover in the C-suite. A longer company tenure may be helping today’s CMOs to learn more about their customer base, their go-to-market strategy and business model, and allowing them to build better partnerships with other business leaders (sales, customer success, finance, IT, human resources); crucial as their roles become more influential.

Talent is often homegrown, and promoted from within. The majority of CMOs analyzed in the U.S, and UK are native to the two countries — 70% in the UK were British-born, 100% in the U.S. were American-born — and promoted from within their own companies (86% in the UK, 89% in the U.S.).

Ultimately, the role of CMO is changing, and our expectations of CMOs should also be evolving, says Susy Dunn, Act-On’s chief people officer. 

“We might still prioritize the same traits in CMOs we always have — a talent for building a company’s brand and partnering with sales — but it’s important we be mindful of how we’re enabling and empowering tomorrow’s CMOs today; to make sure we’re setting them up for success and helping them to develop a deep business acumen, a focus on the customer, an affinity for partnerships, and cross-functional empathy,” Dunn says. 

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