Do male CEOs have a better reputation than female CEOs?

Do male CEOs have a better reputation than female CEOs?

CEO Refresher

So goes the CEO, so goes the company. If that’s not a saying, it should be. Earlier this year, Weber Shandwick released a report called “The CEO Reputation Premium Advantage in the Engagement Era“. In it we find this significant fact:

45% of a company’s reputation and 44% of the market value are attributed to the CEO’s reputation.

We’ve seen this statistic in action a dozen times over the last few years. A CEO does something in his personal life that rubs the world the wrong way and stock prices plummet. We’ve seen consumers arrange boycotts to protest the personal actions of a CEO and we’ve seen CEO’s, who otherwise did a great job, being forced to step down because of their personal views.

There is a flip-side. When a good CEO takes over a bad company, that 45% can help save jobs and stock portfolios. When we trust the leader, we’re all more likely to ride out the bumps in the road.

Next question: does it matter if that leader is a man or a woman? Not really.

Leslie Gaines-Ross, Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist says,

“Our finding that women CEOs deliver return-on-reputation equal to male CEO’s is highly encouraging. Apparently, once women sit in the chief executive chair, they’ve proven themselves and their gender is no longer an issue. Like their male counterparts, all that now counts are business results.”

There is a “however”. The study found that people had opposing views on what made male and female CEOs a good leader. Workers were asked to rate their CEO’s using a list of 30 leadership and personality questions then Weber Shandwick tallied those ratings by gender.

They found that men scored significantly higher in the areas of crisis management, global business outlook and pursuit of awards. In general, men were seen as more likely to have a “clear vision for the company.”

Ironically, both men and women say that a “clear vision” is one of the most important characteristics of a good CEO.

Women scored higher in the areas of interpersonal communications. They were more often seen as being open and accessible and more caring of others.

Basically, men had the best interests of the company in mind, while women had the best interest of the people in mind. Sounds like every company should have two CEOs.

Another significant difference is the area of social media and press. The survey respondents said female CEOs were more likely to use and more comfortable using social media and speaking to the media.

Weber Shandwick thought this might be a perception based on the fact that the media is enamored with female CEOs and so powerful women get more press than powerful men.

But female CEOs see it differently. 85% said that CEO engagement with the public is critical to a company’s reputation. Only 79% of men thought this was true.

Whether there’s a man or woman at the top, that person’s reputation is extremely important. 64% of woman and 54% of men said their decision to stay with a company was influenced by the reputation of the CEO.

That’s yet another reason why protecting your reputation is important, not just for you, but for the future of your company.

See the full Weber Shandwick slide show below: