Viewpoint: CEO wanted, no experience required 

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Boards have picked up the pace on hiring new CEOs after the pandemic induced a lull and are hiring a higher percentage of women. This may be because boards are not prioritizing candidates with previous CEO experience, who tend to be men, Chris Hughes reported for Bloomberg Nov 19. 

Mr. Hughes writes that candidates are far more likely to be seriously considered for a CEO position if they have had prior success in the role. This makes it hard to increase diversity in the C-suite, given that those who were afforded the opportunities of prior experience tend to be white men.

A report by Heidrick & Struggles shows that the experience requirements for CEOs are shifting. More new CEOs have held C-suite positions other than CFO or COO. The proportion of new CEOs who held other C-suite positions more than doubled between January 2021 and June 2021. More CEOs are also being appointed internally, with 62 percent of new CEOs in 2021 coming from within the company, as opposed to 53 percent at the start of 2020. Divisional head roles have also become an increasingly important stepping stone to the CEO position.

Mr. Hughes argues that this may coincide with the increase in hiring of female CEOs. More boards are hiring women, with women accounting for 13 percent of CEO hires in the beginning of 2021, compared to just 6 percent in the second half of 2020. He argues that companies need to embrace a culture of professional development cultivation to help improve diversity in the C-suite and create the next generation of leaders.

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