CEOs as Directors? Maybe not.

Jan 27 2021

Originally posted to KornFerry.com on January 27, 2021. 

It used to be that the surest way to a board seat was to serve as a CEO. Now it might not actually be the best role to have on one’s resume.

In a little-noticed but remarkable shift, many firms are skipping the corner suite and looking elsewhere for directors, choking off what once a wide-open path for current and former corporate CEOs. In fact, recent data shows that nearly two-thirds of the more than 400 director seats filled last year were taken by someone other than a CEO. Experts say since both the pandemic and the racial-equality protests of last year, companies are determined to create boards with more diverse faces and more specific skill sets.

With those trends only gaining more momentum, Charles Elson, a professor of corporate governance at the University of Delaware, expects the number of CEOs on corporate boards to keep shrinking this year. Or, as Elson puts it, “there will be a lot more CEOs playing a lot more golf in the future.”

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