by Edward Qualtrough

Diversity challenge remains despite seeds of youth in CIO 100

Apr 04, 20142 mins

Almost one in five CIOs in the 2014 CIO 100 are still in their 30s with the four youngest aged just 35 – however the responses to our survey show that leading the IT function at an executive level is still an overwhelmingly white and male role.

While the achievements of the UK’s business technology leaders recognised in this year’s CIO 100 should be celebrated, the make-up of the list shows the diversity challenge facing the technology industry is as relevant as ever at the executive level of IT leadership.

The average age of a CIO in the CIO 100 was 45 years and three months, and although some 18% of CIOs were in their 30s and the oldest just past 60 – more than half of CIOs were between the ages of 40 and 49.

Furthermore, only 7% were women and the list was almost exclusively white. The seven women is actually more than the 5% in 2013 and 6% in 2012, although some CIOs at major organisations did not respond to this year’s survey.

The 7% on the CIO 100 is also lower than the 8% of women accounting for CIO roles worldwide reported by Harvey Nash last year – a figure rising to 9% in the UK.

Judge and CIO UK columnist Mike Altendorf expressed concern about how this reflected the industry.

“So essentially what this is telling us is that your average CIO is a 45-year-old white guy,” Altendorf said. “That is unsurprising but slightly depressing.

“I wonder how much disruptive change has been brought about by 45-year-old white guys? Hopefully more than I suspect. This isn’t to say that the traditional profile of the CIO can’t deliver change but it does tell us that horizons haven’t broadened much since the last time we sat here.”

Fellow columnist and digital strategist Ade McCormack could see some positives, however, in an element of youth creeping into the IT function in the C-suite.

He said: “If people are hitting the CIO role at 45 they still have substantial career span left. Hopefully they will be setting their sights on CEO roles.”