I asked myself this question last week in preparing my blog 5 Most Popular Names for CFOs.
The overwhelming majority of CFOs are male. The sample that I used, with over 1,100 names of CFOs hired and promoted over a ten month period, is significant enough to be considered a close representative of the reality that exists in the CFO World in the United States. (You can follow our weekly edition of CFO Moves by signing up on the CFO Moves Blog page).
In essence, this male domination cuts across most senior executive positions and board roles. CFO roles are not alone in this matter. I’m certain that many of the reasons CEOs and other senior executive roles that are mostly male apply to CFOs as well.
When I look back to my undergraduate years, my classes were well balanced between males and females. Perhaps there were even more women than men at the time.
So what happens between graduation and career success?
Some would say that ‘life’ gets in the way. Some would say that it is more difficult for a woman to have a career and a family than men. Some would say that the “Boys Network” makes it difficult for women to be successful at an executive level. Some would say that women are more interested in work/life balance than men.
I don’t know if these are good reasons to explain the difference or not.
I do know that when I’m looking for a CFO candidate (or any executive candidate) for my client’s search, I’m looking for the best people. Best experience. Best ability. Best skills. Best fit. Period.
I was recently looking at a company’s Management web page. I didn’t know the people or the company well, but at first glance, it was hard to tell the difference in the photographs between the executives. They looked ‘cookie cutter’. I don’t know much about the company, but I got the impression that they were not a diverse crowd. I thought that not only did they look the same, they probably thought the same and may even have had similar backgrounds and experiences.
What is Diversity, and is it Profitable?
A company that is diverse in background and experiences can allow it to be successful. You can read more about how Diversity is Profitable, written by my colleague Robin Adams from Stanton Chase International in Hong Kong.
Diversity at the executive level includes people from different backgrounds and cultures. It also includes having more women.
I always recommend that clients hire the best person for the role they are looking to hire. I also always recommend that clients consider diversity in their search to get the best out of their executive team.
My clients should be hiring the best person for the CFO chair (or any executive position). Sex, color, ethnicity, religion and orientation should never be reasons not to hire the best person.
What do you think?
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