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The Impact of a CEO’s Gender, Language, and Education on Growth at the Largest LSPs
Posted by Stephen Henderson on May 23, 2016  in the following blogs: Market Data, Supplier Business Issues, Translation and Localization
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Every June, CSA Research publishes a list of the world’s largest language service and technology providers. This year, when we invited the 191 firms that we ranked in The Language Services Market: 2015 to participate in the survey, we went an extra step and reviewed the curriculum vitae of each company’s CEO or managing director. In this post, we correlate the links between business growth and gender, language, and educational background. We’ll dive into more details when we publish follow-up research in the coming months, but let’s start with the basics shown in this table.

Here are some correlations that we found interesting:

  • Like most others, the language sector has a glass ceiling. Just over 24% of the 191 ranked companies and 23% of the Top 100 LSPs are run by female CEOs. This is a promising number when you consider women hold just 4.4% of the CEO roles at Fortune 500 firms but an encouraging 8% of the top Fortune 100 companies. Unfortunately, the number of women in the corner office for the language sector decreases to just 10% as you move up the list to the LSPs with the most revenue.

  • Women-run LSPs grow faster than those with male leadership. While the percentage of female CEOs drops as we approach the top of the rankings, their companies’ revenue increased at a rate up to twice that of male-led companies – and in one case more than double. Among the top 50 LSPs, women grew their companies by an average of 22.8% compared to the 9.2% average growth of male-run organizations. For the largest 100, women-run LSPs grew 18.88% and men-run companies grew 9%.

  • Female CEOs are more likely in some regions. Male executives dominate the 100 largest companies in North America, as well as in Western Europe, Northern Europe, and Asia. We are most likely to find female leaders in North America. Women also had a strong presence in Southern Europe and Asia.

  • Gender aside, CEOs at the top-ranked companies have a lot of schooling. Among the 191 companies, 69 executives earned a masters degree or doctorate at institutes across the globe, including Cambridge and Oxford in the U.K., American Ivy League schools like Brown, Columbia, and Harvard, and a wide range of institutions of higher learning from Beijing to Buenos Aires to Beirut to Bengaluru.

  • The bigger the company, the less likely the CEO speaks another language. Among the 100 largest companies, these executives tend to be bilingual. When we reviewed the top 50 firms, we found an average of 1.7 languages per CEO; 1.5 among the top 20; 1.7 in the top 10; and 2.2 in the top five. This data shows the preponderance of multilingual Europeans in the top firms, with the largest firms having more multilingual CEOs than their rivals further down the list.

  • Some CEOs have surprising backstories. Most of the chief executives in our sample come from linguistic or business backgrounds. However, we found a few out-of-the-ordinary areas of study for being CEO of an LSP. These standout majors include inorganic chemistry, zoology, oceanography, and a CEO who held a military leadership role. Sometimes these degrees support the company’s original business model – for example, CEOs with backgrounds in life sciences or finance might have focused their prospecting on clients in those sectors.
Which companies will we review in 2017? Do your part in the process and take The 2016 Global Market Survey as soon as possible. Click here to see if the survey is still open in your region.


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Related Research
The Language Services Market: 2015
The Top 100 Language Service Providers: 2015
The Fastest-Growing LSPs: 2015
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