New study reveals that Senior Communicators’ representation on executive boards varies significantly across sectors and countries
Senior communications executives play an increasingly critical role in advancing the business agenda and already a quarter of them are a member of the executive committee, according to new research from the European Association of Communication Directors (EACD) in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam’s School of Communication Research (ASCoR) and Russell Reynolds Associates.
A detailed examination of companies listed under the Financial Times (FT) Top 500 list revealed that 24.2% of FT 500 companies include their chief communications officer (CCO) as a member of the executive committee.
The research also found that the distribution of CCO’s in the executive committee of the FT 500 differs across regions with North America leading with 33.8%, followed by Europe at 23.5% and Asia with 6.6%.
The likelihood of a CCO in the executive committee varies significantly across sectors: CCOs hold an executive committee seat in 38.2% of healthcare firms, 29.1% of consumer firms, 27.3% of industrial and natural resources firms, and 23.4% of technology/media/telecom firms. In contrast, CCOs hold an executive committee seat in 14.7% of financial services firms and 8.7% of business/professional services firms.
Looking closer and comparing companies within B2B vs. B2C and heavily regulated vs. lightly regulated sectors, there is no difference in the likelihood of CCOs being represented at the top table. This would suggest that CCOs attaining an executive committee seat has more to do with the function of the individual company dynamics (e.g. culture) and individual executive dynamics (e.g. preference of the CEO) than structural dynamics (e.g. level of regulation).
The quantitative research results will be followed up with qualitative data through interviews with CEOs on the role and expectations of the chief communications officer.
The President of the EACD, Herbert Heitmann, commented “Reputation, brand and communication aspects should always be considered as that will lead to better business decisions, which are also then more accepted. It’s encouraging to see that already a quarter of the CCOs have a seat at the top table. I look very much forward to the second phase of the research where we will hear the CEOs comment on what they expect from their chief communications officers and if they believe the discipline deserves a seat in the executive committee”.
The European Association of Communication Directors (EACD) brings together over 2100 in-house communication professionals together to network, exchange ideas and discuss the latest news and information relevant to their work. Through Working Groups on specific communications topics and publications such as the magazine Communication Director and Service Brochures for its members, the EACD works to advance professional qualification, and to promote the visibility and standing of the profession. www.eacd-online.eu.
The Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) is the research institute in Communication Science at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, University of Amsterdam. It is the largest research institute of its kind in Europe and is among the largest worldwide. More than 50 senior researchers are permanently associated with ASCoR, and its English-language PhD program hosts 34 students.
Russell Reynolds Associates is a global leader in assessment, recruitment and succession planning for Chief Executive Officers, boards of directors, and key roles within the C-suite. With more than 300 consultants in 41 offices around the world, we work closely with both public and private organizations across all industries and regions. We help our clients build boards and executive teams that can meet the challenges and opportunities presented by the digital, economic, environmental and political trends that are reshaping the global business environment. www.russellreynolds.com.