Should CMOs be more prevalent on retail boards?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of articles from MarketingCharts, which provides up-to-the-minute data and research to marketers.
Chief marketing officers’ roles have changed in scope and importance in recent years as they have taken on the responsibilities of customer experience, data analytics and brand. Very few, however, hold seats as directors on company boards.
A new study from Spencer Stuart finds that of the thousands of seats available for Fortune 1000 companies in the U.S. only 26 are currently occupied by individuals holding the title of CMO or its equivalent. The survey doesn’t include former marketers who may have moved into broader executive roles.
An accompanying survey of more than 250 senior marketing executives found about three-quarters (73 percent) expecting that marketers will become more prevalent on boards in the coming years.
Asked in what areas marketers might bring the most value to the board, the top answer was consumer/client insights, 42 percent, closely followed by digital technologies (AI, social media, etc.), 40 percent.
The findings come as other reports show marketing’s influence is increasing. A SAS-sponsored survey of 560 business leaders, for instance, found 36 percent indicating that responsibility for the customer experience sits with the CMO, versus a quarter at the CEO’s feet.
The Spencer Stuart study found that marketers may be more popular in the boardroom as driving organic growth increases in importance for many companies. More expertise in “modern marketing” skills, including digital transformation, social media, customer relationship management and loyalty, mobile platforms and omnichannel retail, is also being sought. Insights from marketers may also prove beneficial because they tend to work across functions and areas such as strategy are becoming increasingly important.
Obstacles that keep marketing leaders from wider representation on boards include the fact that only a small number of seats become available on boards every year, a bias toward replace exiting board members with individuals with similar expertise and a tendency to prioritize leaders who have prior CEO or governance experience.
As more marketers become CEOs, more board members with marketing backgrounds could follow, according to the study. An analysis of the largest 233 publicly traded firms from Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business finds some 25 percent of CEOs have marketing experience.
- Three In Four Marketing Execs Expect CMOs to Be More Prevalent On Boards – MarketingCharts
- CMOs on Boards – Spencer Stuart
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Has it become more important for individuals with marketing expertise to join boards? What other areas of expertise may become more critical for retail company boardrooms?