A new report from leadership advisory firm Russell Reynolds Associates reveals that despite a record number of women being appointed to CEO roles globally, achieving gender parity at the highest levels of corporate leadership is still a distant goal, with an estimated timeline of 81 years.

The 2023 Global CEO Turnover report highlights that the FTSE 100, one of the world’s leading stock indices, is not expected to reach gender parity until 2141, a staggering 117 years away.

The report indicates a seven-year increase from 2022 in the estimated time required to achieve global CEO gender parity.

In 2023, women accounted for almost a quarter (23%) of CEO departures in the UK’s FTSE 100, while 87 percent of CEO appointments continued to be dominated by men.

The report analyses trends across twelve national and international stock markets, providing insights into the challenges and progress in achieving gender diversity in CEO positions.

Women are 3 times more likely to leave

Despite reaching a joint record of 12 percent women CEO appointments in 2023, the report notes a concerning increase in the rate of women CEO departures. Women were three times more likely to leave for personal reasons (16% compared to 5% for men) and faced a higher dismissal rate (34% versus 25%).

The global CEO turnover rate remained high, with 10 percent of CEOs departing their roles in 2023. Retirements accounted for nearly a third (29%) of departures, while dismissals constituted 27 percent, reflecting the challenges CEOs face in a rapidly evolving business landscape.

The FTSE 100 experienced the highest CEO churn in 2023, with 13 percent of CEO roles changing hands. The report suggests that businesses sought stability through internal hires, as 77 percent of new CEO appointments globally were sourced from within organisations. This trend is attributed to shareholder pressure for lower-risk candidates with proven track records and cultural expectations of improved staff connection through internal appointments.

Why are CEOs stepping down?

Luke Meynell, Global Lead at RRA’s Board & CEO Advisory Partners, emphasised the evolving nature of the CEO role, citing pressures ranging from environmental concerns to geopolitical events. Meynell noted that CEOs are stepping down for various reasons, reflecting the challenges they face in navigating an increasingly complex business environment.

Laura Sanderson, UK Lead and EMEA Co Lead of RRA, highlighted the need for faster progress in achieving gender parity, emphasising the disproportionate challenges faced by women CEOs in the public eye. Sanderson urged a deeper examination of the reasons behind women CEOs leaving their roles prematurely, emphasising the paradoxical expectations placed on them.

As efforts to increase women’s representation in CEO roles continue, the report underscores the importance of addressing the unique challenges faced by women leaders and fostering a more inclusive corporate environment.





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.