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Corporate America’s CEOs are getting older, are mostly white in 2019


  • The average age of Fortune 500 and S&P 500 CEOs spiked in the last year, according to data from executive staffing firm Crist Kolder Associates.
  • The overwhelming majority of CEOs are also white, though the number of CEOs of color has ticked up somewhat over the last 15 years.
  • The data suggests businesses still have a long way to go in increasing racial diversity at the C-suite level.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Pop culture often gives chief executives a reputation for being old, white guys.

In reality, they mostly are.

A new report from executive staffing firm Crist Kolder Associates found the average age at the time of hire for CEOs of Fortune 500 and S&P 500 companies rose sharply to 58-years-old from 54 since 2018.

The report also found racial diversity among CEOs has risen, but executives of color still make up a small fraction of corporate leaders — corroborating other recent data that businesses are lagging in increasing racial diversity at the top. 

Half of sitting chief executives got their gig before they turned 51, and the most common age for CEOs is 57-years-old, according to the report. Warren Buffett, who is 88, was the oldest CEO in the study — and he doesn’t plan to leave anytime soon.

While some male CEOs — like Mark Zuckerberg and Michael Dell — started their companies as teenagers, the female executives covered in the study were 40 or older when they get hired.

ceo age v2

Business Insider/Andy Kiersz, data from Crist Kolder Associates

Racial diversity among Fortune 500 and S&P 500 CEOs grew slightly last year: five more chief executives were from minority groups this year than in 2018, bringing the total number of CEOs of color to 59. 

Despite the increase, just 8.7% of the 675 companies in the study had CEOs of color.

Most of the growth in the number of CEOs of color over the last 15 years came from more Asian and Latino hires. There are 20 more Asian and 13 more Latino CEOs in 2019 than there were in 2004, according to the study.

Black chief executives, however, are still barely represented in the Fortune 500 and S&P 500, despite African Americans making up the second largest racial group in the US. The number of black CEOs in the studied companies has hovered between four and seven since 2004. Today, there are just five black Fortune 500 and S&P 500 CEOs, according to the report. 

ceo race

Andy Kiersz/Business Insider


Other data also suggests that men and women of color have struggled to see gains in corporate board rooms and in executive positions. A recent report by Lean In and McKinsey found women of color make up just 4% of C-suites, and men of color make up 10%. 


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