Do CEO Looks Matter? Guess so

January 08, 2014

Do CEO Looks Matter? Guess so

Although I have read about the importance of looks in hiring and in getting to the top, it is hard to really believe that there is a hardcore CEO premium on “beauty.” But apparently there is research that says this. Two economists conducted research and found that attractive CEOs are more highly valued by investors, get paid more than their less attractive peers and are more successful negotiating deals than their less beautiful peers. As Andrew Ross Sorkin says in DealBook, “..shareholders are as easily swayed by the glint in the eye of a chief executive as they are by a company’s actual numbers, at least in the short-term.” Kind of makes you cringe to think that it all gets down to a beauty premium, right? The researchers found that more attractive CEOs reaped a $873,000 increase in total wages, compared to peers that were less attractive. Ouch.

Interestingly, the researchers used a program, anaface.com, that electronically measures “beauty” and submitted the CEO pictures to determine attractiveness.  The site scores people based on facial attractiveness and symmetry. I love the tag line of sorts — Score Your Face.

Being in the communications business, I was particularly intrigued to learn that an attractive CEO who appears on TV has a significant effect on the “immediate” performance of the stock. I have to save this stat since many CEOs ask us why they should appear on TV when they have a business to run. But here you have an answer, depending on how they look to you. 

I do not doubt that attractive people do get ahead, all things being equal. But as Sorkin notes, over the long-term, its hard to accept that looks trump results.

 

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross
lesliegainesross@gmail.com

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of reputations.

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