New BoardEx Report Reveals the Impact of Age and Gender on Board Appointments

High qualifications and skill are no guarantee of a board seat, age and gender also impact the likelihood of securing these positions.

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BoardEx released a new study: The Right Age to be a Director. 

Key among the report’s findings is that high qualification and skill are no guarantee of a board seat.  

For even the most talented people who have the right mix of experience, career options will narrow as an individual’s age advances. There is a critical time in an executive’s life when their likelihood for being appointed to a board sharply declines.

The study includes data on 42,608 individuals leading 5,944 public companies in the US and UK.  The analysis focused on the age of appointment for all director roles including Executive director, CEO, Independent director, and Chair.  It also uses a model to estimate the remaining likelihood of a suitably qualified individual gaining one of these directorships as they age.

Download the full report below to get access to all the data on The Right Age to be a Director.

The Right Age to be a Director

Board-Level Roles in US

  • For CEO-hopefuls in the US, the odds of being appointed to the top spot are 1 in 3 when they hit the age of 55.  In just 6 years, those odds decrease by 70%.
  • The study shows that the average age of appointment to Chair is 59 while the oldest was appointed at 90.  It also finds that at any age, very few women are appointed to the position. 

Board-Level Roles in UK

  • In UK public companies, the age ranges are younger than in the US.  The average age of appointment for the role of CEO is 49, 56 for Independent or Non-executive directors as they are commonly referred to in the UK and 59 for Chair. 
  • The odds of appointment decrease as suitably qualified leaders age.  An individual that is 49 years old has a 50:50 chance at being appointed to CEO, less than 10 years later, at the age of 58 there is a 1 in 10 chance of being appointed. 

The Majority of Board Roles Held by Women are as Independent Directors

  • The window of opportunity for board appointments is longer for qualified men than it is for qualified women in both the US and the UK. Women tend to be appointed to board seats at younger ages than men, but within a tighter time frame.
  • The age range for US CEO appointments span 55 years for men and 36 years for women while most women secure CEO appointments between the ages of 46 and 59. 
  • In the US and UK, Independent director roles deliver the most gender balance of all board roles.  93% of US and 82% of UK board positions held by women are as Independent directors. 

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