HR & Management

FTSE 100 CEOs are younger and more international than global counterparts

3 min read

09 October 2015

Heidrick & Struggles has released a report highlighting the diversity of the UK's top firms, as well as its position as a global business hub.

British FTSE 100 CEOs come from a wider range of nationalities and have also notched up more international experience when compared to their counterparts in leading economies such as the US, France and Germany.

Four out of ten of FTSE 100 CEOs have international experience – which the report defined as having spent at least five years abroad – and the average time they have spent abroad is 15 years. This is double the figure of US Fortune 100 companies, where only 19 per cent of CEOs have international experience and the average time spent overseas is 11 years.  

According to Heidrick & Struggles, the findings also highlight that more than a third of FTSE 100 CEOs are foreign nationals. These CEOs are mostly either European or from the Commonwealth. In contrast, the figure for foreign nationals in the Fortune 100 is seven per cent, just shy of France’s eight per cent. In Germany, 17 per cent of DAX 30 and MDAX 50 CEOs are foreign.

Luis Urbano, Heidrick & Struggles’ Europe and Africa managing partner, said: “The cross-cultural intelligence that comes with international diversity is increasingly important for companies operating in today’s volatile and fast-moving global business environment.”

Read more about the FTSE 100:

It was also found that female CEOs remain rare. France and Germany still lack gender diversity, the report claimed. In fact, it suggested that it was the first time France or German CEOs have been female. 

The UK fares better with five female CEOs in the FTSE 100 – Alison Cooper of Imperial Tobacco; Liv Garfield of Severn Trent; Royal Mail’s Moya Greene; Kingfisher’s Véronique Deroubaix; and Carolyn McCall of Easyjet.

But the US leads the way with nine women at the helm of Fortune 100 companies, a four-fold increase since 2007 when the figure was only two. 

Some 24 per cent of UK FTSE CEOs graduated from Oxford or Cambridge, highlighting the importance of an Oxbridge qualification in the route to the top, the report claimed. However, the proportion of UK CEOs without post-graduate degrees is the lowest of the four countries. In France, having a post-graduate qualification is almost mandatory, with 92 per cent of CEOs holding an advanced degree. 

British CEOs have also been found to be younger. CEOs in the UK are on average 54 years old as opposed to 59 in the US. French and Germans CEOs have an average of 56 years old.