Influence 100 Insights 2020, Demographics & Background

Insights: Demographics & Background

The following data is based on responses from a survey sent to this year‘s Influence 100, and where applicable, further analysis. Some percentages might not equal exactly 100% due to rounding.

Who Are The 100? 


We’ve shaken up the Influence 100 this year and there are many new names who appear for the first time in the listing: in total there are 44 new entrants, compared to 29 last year. This is due to factors including job changes (several of last year’s influencers have left their roles) and the rise of various executives, companies and industries.

Unsurprisingly, the influence of North America has remained dominant, with 56 influencers from this region (down from 58% last year). Meanwhile, 29% come from EMEA (down from 32% last year), 13% from Asia-Pacific (up from 10%) and only 2% from Latin America, up from 1% last year.


For the first time, we’re delighted to have not only achieved gender balance but to have more powerful women in global comms leadership roles than men in the Influence 100, with 54 women and 46 men, leaping up from 47 women last year and 38 in 2018. Most of the women in the table this year – 32 – are new entrants.

Ethnic diversity 

Amid the Black Lives Matter movement, we’ve investigated the racial diversity of our 100 influencers, in line with our recently published commitments to increase the visibility of Black and ethnic minority comms professionals.

Specifically, we had said: “The Influence 100, in particular, has long struggled with diversity and inclusion, as it prioritises the heads of communications and marketing functions. Once again, we believe that this kind of change must be made visible for it to happen — including more PoC on this list is one way to ensure that they are more often considered for leadership roles.”

In an industry that is overwhelmingly white in the US and Europe, where the majority of our influencers are based, it was clear that we needed to apply a certain amount of conscious bias towards representation of Black and ethnic minority leaders. To that end, we’ve looked at a wider range of job titles this year (beyond the CMO and CCO roles we have largely hitherto focused on) to better reflect how influence is evolving among corporates, as diversity and inclusion play a more prominent role in the stakeholder equation. We believe this is not only a more interesting picture, but a more accurate one too — demonstrating the kind of long-overdue change that is required in the PR industry. Accordingly, new roles include heads of sustainability, digital transformation, diversity and brand.

When the Influence 100 first launched, around 90% of the list was white. Last year, 23 of the 100 executives were PoC, but only four were Black. Our target for this year was for 25% of the Influence 100 to be PoC and 15% to be Black. In fact, the table is 30% PoC, and 10% Black. Of the whole list, 6% are Black women, a particularly under-represented group in the industry. It’s an improvement on previous years, but we’ve only partially hit our targets.


With practically every company now a technology company to a greater or lesser extent, breaking down the Influence 100 by sector has become increasingly complex. Our categories focus on what the organisations our influencers work for actually do or sell, not how they do it or whether their audience is consumer or B2B. So, for example, Amazon is a retailer, Uber is a transport firm, and Paypal is a financial services company.

Our categories split out mainly consumer-facing brands, including putting FMCG and automotive together but separating out food and drink, and media and entertainment. Our ‘social and search’ category includes Google, Facebook and LinkedIn, rather than including them with technology. Industry includes energy, engineering and agriculture. Meanwhile, the technology category is old-school: traditional hardware and software companies, plus electronics and telecoms.

The split between sectors is more or less the same as last year. There was a slight lift in presence for food and drink, technology, travel and retail companies, as well as a deliberate increase in the number of NGOs, non-profits and charities we’ve featured. There was a dip in the number of financial and professional services, industrial, media and entertainment, healthcare and other types of organisations, which includes multinational conglomerates.


Our Influence 100 communicators and marketers have worked for their current company for an average of 7.1 years, a little down on last year’s average tenure of 8.7 years. This was down to a combination of some long-servers moving into new roles or retiring, plus our enhanced focus on broader responsibilities and diversity; for instance, we took the decision to replace P&G chief brand officer Marc Pritchard, who has been with the firm for 39 years and has been on the Influence 100 since its inception in 2012, with the company’s new chief communications officer, Damon Jones.

The longest-serving of this year’s influencers – Michael Sneed, J&J’s worldwide VP, global corporate affairs & chief communication officer – has been with the company for 37 years. Other long-serving influencers include  Conny Braams, who has been at Unilever for 30 years.

There’s a bigger split between long-stayers and fresh players in the listing this year: 11% of the cohort have been with their employer for 20 years or more, compared with 13% last year, but 34% have been with their current company for two years or less, compared with 26% in 2019.


Nearly all our Influence 100 are educated to at least first degree level, although a small number have proved that it’s still possible to get to the top without a college or university education. Of this year’s cohort, many more have an advanced degree: 48% compared with 36% last year, while 50% are educated to first degree level.

In terms of the most popular subjects for study, there was a clear bias towards degrees focused on marketing, communications, journalism and PR, but the second biggest category was political science or economics. Many of our influencers also have a MBA or other business or management qualification. There were very few pure English graduates, and only a scattering of languages, history, law and other humanities degrees. At least two of our cohort, however, come from a science background, with degrees in chemical engineering.