5 Industries with Gaps in Executive Talent

While certainly not the first iteration of the Great Resignation, the COVID-19 pandemic set off another wave in 2021. Record numbers of people voluntarily left their jobs across industries and ranks—even high-level CEOs.

A study conducted by Deloitte reported that approximately 70 percent of top-level executives were strongly considering leaving their jobs in order to support mental health, wellbeing or physical health. One of the biggest search engines - Jooble, also notes that Americans slowed down their job search. This post-COVID-19 loss of executive talent in the workforce has impacted every industry in some capacity, from government to leisure and hospitality. But how has this affected the C-suite specifically?

Read on to learn more about the current difficulties of hiring and retaining executive leadership roles in five specific industries.

1. Manufacturing

The manufacturing industry has been a notable area of focus among the media and the general public, largely due to supply chain issues and their effect on society. But manufacturing is experiencing some other issues as well:

  • Pipelines for leadership development need strengthening. In a survey of global executives on the key talent strategies and trends for the future, approximately a third ranked a lack of leadership development and succession planning as one of the top issues in the field. It’s predicted to remain a primary talent concern for years to come.
  • Shortcomings in corporate talent programs. Few executives surveyed felt that their company’s talent efforts were world-class, while over 80 percent reported substantial improvements would be required to bring them up to standards.
  • Global competition. As the current workforce faces large numbers of employee losses, companies around the world find themselves in competition to recruit and hire from a smaller pool of qualified candidates.

2. Healthcare

Similarly, healthcare has understandably been in the news throughout the pandemic, with executive leadership facing numerous critical challenges, including:

  • Struggling to meet increasing patient demands. Patient numbers are on the rise. The increase in demand paired with existing shortages in both caregivers and healthcare executives has caused a significant talent gap.
  • After years spent navigating extremely high numbers of patients on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19, many healthcare providers and executives left the field in order to protect their own physical and/or mental health. Talent shortages were a top challenge in the industry before the pandemic, and have increased significantly in the years since—including within the C-suite.

3. Traditional IT

Information technology is a cornerstone of virtually every facet of society. Significant demand outweighs available labor, and lack of specialization has stunted many companies’ efforts to build out a tech-savvy C-suite:

  • Limited leadership experience. While the IT industry itself has seen consistent growth throughout the years as we become increasingly dependent on new technologies, the emphasis within the industry has been on talent and technical skills. While these are essential for employment within the industry, companies are also looking for leadership and managerial skills to build up stronger executive talent.
  • Leadership development pipeline issues. Like manufacturing, traditional IT needs to strengthen its leadership development pipeline so professionals in the field are given opportunities to develop the communication, marketing and negotiating skills needed to step into leadership roles as they open up, enabling the pool of leaders to expand within the industry.

4. Nonprofit

Executive talent gaps are not unique to the for-profit sector. Here are two key issues impacting nonprofit organizations as they seek high-quality executives:

  • Limited candidate pool: While nonprofits often struggle to secure the money needed to run their operations, perhaps an even greater struggle within the industry is finding qualified leadership candidates. While a search for an executive in a comparable private sector role may turn up a candidate pool of 5 qualified candidates, those in the nonprofit world are lucky to find 1 to 3. Candidates often choose opportunities in the public or private sectors instead.
  • Little room to grow and advance: Why do nonprofits so frequently lose executive talent to the public or private sectors? They struggle to provide the career development and advancement opportunities that other sectors are able to offer their employees, both within the organizations that hired them and across the field.

5. Retail and consumer packaged goods (CPG)

Finally, CPG and consumer products have also struggled during the Great Resignation and throughout the pandemic, particularly in the realm of executive diversity:

  • Hiring and retaining diverse candidates. The retail and consumer packaged goods industry has struggled significantly with its efforts to hire and retain diverse executive candidates, particularly women—the rate of turnover among women is nearly four times that of their male counterparts. A report conducted on this issue found that this is because women often feel isolated and unsupported in the industry, bias and favoritism have historically been allowed to go unchecked and work/life balance is particularly lopsided.

While each industry experiences its own struggles and unique challenges in hiring and retention, by examining this subset you can begin to identify throughlines in their experiences—executives want to feel valued and supported in their work, have access to career development opportunities and be given room for growth within their company or industry. Answering the call for these demands paves the way to success in attracting top-level C-suite candidates.

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