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Deloitte: New C-Suite Roles Mean More Opportunities for Women


Dramatic changes over the last 20 years arising from the use of new technology, new business demands, social changes, and more are transforming the way financial services businesses, including insurance, staff their C-suites – and translates to more representation for women at the highest levels of insurance companies and other firms.

According to a new Deloitte Center for Financial Services analysis of more than 100 large U.S. financial institutions -- including the top 25 insurers -- these emerging C-suite roles have a higher representation of women than any other leadership category. And, as the report says, “The addition of these roles has arguably led to new opportunities to join the highest levels of leadership in financial services.”

Today’s C-suite includes a host of new designations virtually unheard of before 2010, focusing on diversity and inclusion, sustainability, innovation, data, strategy and privacy.

Here are the topline findings from the report:

  • Emerging C-suite roles in financial services firms – encompassing both new and newly elevated or redefined positions – grew 17% annually between 2011 and 2019.
  • In all of 2019, women accounted for 32.5% of these roles, compared with 27% in traditional C-suite roles, and 20.3% of those in management roles one to three levels below the C-suite. Across a 10-year average, women accounted for 32.7% of emerging roles versus 21.9% of traditional C-suite positions.
  • Women serving Chief diversity and chief learning officers are more likely to be women, representing 86.7% and 61.5% of these roles, respectively. Women serving as leaders in brand (46.4%) and chief sustainability (50%) are nearly or already on par with men.
  • Over the last decade, the share of women as chief innovation officers (32.4%), chief data analytics or chief digital officers (28.5%), and chief strategy officers (25.2%) also exceed their average share in traditional C-suite roles.

“Some of these results may be due more to a rebranding of roles that have traditionally been held by women … but others, such as those leading innovation, analytics and data, and strategy, are perhaps more ‘new-to-world’ and, thus, do truly represent new leadership opportunities,” the report states.


While the Deloitte report doesn’t theorize about why women seem to be on the ascendency in these new roles, it infers that because many of these new roles are hybrids, they tend not to have a set career path, which could result in more avenues to reach them.

The Deloitte study observes that while these new roles may provide more entrance to women, there is a potential drawback: most of these new roles do not have the profit and loss responsibilities that are frequently seen as a step on the ladder to CEO.

“Notably, none of the emerging role categories are linked to revenue generation or leading lines of business,” the report finds. “Without these responsibilities, firms should consider the impact some of these new roles may have on the upward mobility of women into the upper echelon of company leadership, and explore the following:

  • What enhancements could be made to some of these emerging roles that could allow them to contribute to, if not own, bottom-line results?
  • Is there a new path to CEO on the horizon? Could more than one path be considered?
  • Will tech-fueled advancements that drive growth opportunities, such as artificial intelligence, fintech, and the future of work, necessitate further evolution and expansion of these emerging roles? Will additional roles be needed?”

# # #

Expanding the C-Suite: What are the Emerging Leadership Roles?

  • Chief analytics officer
  • Chief brand officer
  • Chief customer experience officer
  • Chief cyber security officer
  • Chief data officer
  • Chief digital officer
  • Chie diversity and inclusion officer
  • Chief ethics and compliance officer
  • Chief information security officer
  • Chief innovation officer
  • Chief learning officer
  • Chief privacy officer
  • Chief sustainability officer
  • Chief strategy officer
  • Chief transformation officer



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