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Incoming female CEOs dropped 39.3% in 2021, according to new data

Jeremy Lim
11 February 2022

AI-driven retail merchandising firm Nextail has revealed that fashion businesses chose experienced executives that could have an immediate impact in 2021, as COVID-19 restrictions and supply chain disruption caused hesitation.

The Fashion's Newest CEOs report highlights the conservative choices businesses made when changing leadership in 2021, with most appointments being predominantly male with operational experience, as opposed to design or marketing.

The report found that male appointments made up 76.9% of all CEO newcomers across the fashion industry in the year, while the number of incoming female CEOs dropped by 39.3% year on year, and by 23.3% compared with 2019. More than 90% of incoming CEOs had fashion sector experience and almost 75% had C-Suite experience.

Nextail added that the slow-down in female appointments is regrettable, but it is more likely to be a pause rather than a reversal as businesses move out of their conservative phase and look for innovation.

 Fashion’s Newest CEOs 2022 Report from Nextail

Luxury was particularly active in bringing in new CEOs, with an 80% year on year growth in appointments. Most notable appointments are the replacements of two of the most long-serving leaders, Andrea Panconesi at LuisaViaRoma and Alain Wertheimer at Chanel.

Joaquín Villalba, CEO of Nextail, said: "If an incoming CEO already has a depth of knowledge and experience, they can sort the basics out quickly before moving on to the rest of the business. With omnichannel, the new normal, and there being a pressing need to improve systems to reduce waste, companies need to evaluate their use of data and bring the digital into the heart of their operations."

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