We’re sure you’ve been looking for the latest CEO height statistics. And we’re here to make your life easier.
In this post, we share some statistics on CEO height statistics that will help answer some of your most pressing questions about the world around you—like “how tall is the average Fortune 500 executive?” or “what is the average height of CEOs in America?”
These stats will help you figure out exactly how tall (or short) you need to be in order to qualify as a CEO and whether or not there’s anything else that might affect your chances of making it big in the world of CEOs.
We know that these are questions that matter to a lot of people out there—and we want to do what we can to help them find answers.
So go ahead—read on!
Average CEO Height Statistics
1. The average height among Swedish CEOs is 1.83m
(Harvard Business School)
A report looking at the connection between height and success in the business world shared some interesting views on the importance of being tall. This study, which looked at 1.3 million Swedish men, found that CEOs tended to be taller than average.
While the average man in the sample stood at a height of around 1.79m, the men who ended up in the C-Suite as a CEO were usually around 1.83m in height. The researchers suggest that unconscious bias may cause some employers to believe taller people are more confident, and more capable of leadership.
2. 58% of CEOs are over 6 feet in height among Fortune 500 companies
(Malcolm Gladwell, Blink)
Author Malcom Gladwell researched the number of taller people in the boardroom when writing his best-selling book “Blink”. Polling around half of the companies within the Fortune 500 list, he found the height of the average CEO was usually around 6 feet or just under.
At the time of writing the book, Malcolm noted that the average American male was 5 foot 9, indicating CEOs have at least 3 inches more height than many of their counterparts. Only around 14.5% of men are over 6 feet tall in the US population. However, among CEOs of Fortune 500 companies interviewed by Gladwell, this number was 58%.
Notably, while only 3.9% of adult men are over 6 foot 2 in general, the percentage of people over this height in the CEO sample was 30%.
3. The shortest CEO as of 2019 was Jack Ma, at 4 foot 11
(The Modest Man)
To highlight the fact that shorter people can still achieve success in the CEO world, the Modest Man conducted a study tracking the shortest CEOs in 2019. The report found that the shortest CEO at the time was Jack Ma, who measured only 4 foot and 11 inches, but had a net worth of $35 billion.
Notably, despite being the shortest CEO on the list, Jack Ma was still in the top ten for net worth, above a number of much taller CEOs. For instance, Jack Ma’s net worth was 7 times greater than Jack Dorsey, who was almost a foot taller at 5 foot 10.
4. Less than 3% of CEOs are under 5 foot and 7 inches
According to a report published by Jonathan Rauch in the economist, the average CEO is generally much taller than their non-managerial counterpart.
Although the number of shorter CEOs has become more significant in recent years, less than 3% of CEOs are less than 5 foot 7 in height.
Statistics on the Correlation Between CEO Height and Success
5. The median large-company CEO is in the top 5% for height
(Harvard Business School)
A report titled “Are CEOs born leaders” looked at the traits of 1 million individuals for indications of characteristics that might contribute to a greater chance of success. The report from Renee Adams of UNSW Business School, Samuli Knupfer from BI Norwegian Business School, and Matti Keloharju from Aalto University School for business found height was a key factor.
The median height for an average large-company CEO fell into the top 5% of the height of the wider public in general. This indicates CEOs are generally taller on average than their counterparts. Notably, height wasn’t the only thing considered to be an indicator of success here. The report also found CEOs fell into the top 17% of the population for their cognitive function.
Swedish men were also more likely to be among the tallest in the CEO measured group. However, researchers indicate this could be related to a higher height ratio in Scandinavian countries.
6. Height can improve your chances of getting into any high-end profession, as well as becoming a CEO
Studies into how height might have an impact on professional success date back more than 100 years. According to a report by Gowin EB in 1915, taller adults were more likely to hold jobs of higher status than their counterparts and earn more than other workers.
The report suggests the taller men in the sample were more likely to achieve roles like bishop instead of preacher, and sales managers were typically taller than salesmen.
While the concept of “CEO” was still a little murky at this point in history, the report offers a good insight into how heightism has influenced the opportunities of taller people for some time.
7. In the UK, men working in managerial positions (like CEO) are six-tenths of an inch taller than those in manual occupations
(National Library of Medicine)
A study published by Anne Case and Christina Paxson in the National Library of Medicine found height is positively correlated with an increased chance of business success in developed countries.
The study looked at workers across the US and the UK and found that American men in white-collar occupations, like CEO, were up to 1 inch taller than those in blue-collar careers.
Among a selection of 30-year old men surveyed in the UK, the report also found those working in managerial and C-suite positions (like CEO) were up to six-tenths of an inch taller than anyone with a manual occupation.
8. In the UK, women in CEO and managerial positions are an inch taller than average
(National Library of Medicine)
The National Library of Medicine study published by Christina Paxson and Anne Case found all genders were more likely to have a higher chance of being in a managerial or C-suite job when they were tall. The report found in the UK, women working as professional executives and managers were an inch taller on average than those typically working in blue-collar roles.
For both men and women in the study, the relationship between height and earnings was significant too. A one-inch increase in height in this survey indicated a potential increase of 1.4 to 2.9% in salary on a weekly basis. The report also indicated that taller people earned between 1 and 2.3% more on average per hour than their counterparts.
According to the researchers, height was also correlated positively with longer work hours, indicating taller people might work longer days.
Various researchers have looked into corresponding traits to explain why CEOs and other business leaders are more likely to be taller than their counterparts. A report from the University of Edinburgh found a correlation between higher height and stronger IQ levels.
Collecting data from “Generation Scotland,” a study into Scottish family health, the team found a significant correlation between height and IQ. According to the team, shorter people were usually slightly less intelligent than the taller people studied.
10. An increase of height by 10cm leads to a 2.2% higher chance of achieving a managerial position
Eric Lindqvist from the Stockholm School for Economics used Swedish government and military enlistment data to determine the connection between height and career success.
According to the report, there’s a strong correlation between a person’s height and their ability to achieve a managerial position. This also correlates to achieving positions like CEO.
An increase in height by around 10cms, or 3.94 inches, could increase a person’s chance of a managerial role by 2.2%, according to the report. For a man of average height, this means every 10 cm of height could lead to a 27% increase in the chance of holding a managerial position like CEO.
11. Ability and height need to be balanced to increase the chance of a leadership role
Eric Lindqvist’s study into the correlation between height and success in the business world suggests a strong connection between the chances of earning a leadership role, and your height.
However, height isn’t enough to improve your chances of becoming CEO.
The report found controlling for cognitive abilities, like the ability to understand instructions and technical requirements, and non-cognitive ability, like leadership skills, also affected outcomes.
Controlling for cognitive and non-cognitive skills reduced the height-leadership correlation in the study by 50%, indicating an increased height won’t guarantee a CEO role or managerial position if the correct skills aren’t there.
Height and Earning Potential for CEOs
12. Every inch above average height may be worth another $789 per year
(Journal of Applied Psychology)
A study into the correlation between height and success indicates taller people may be more likely to earn more and achieve better-paying jobs, like CEO. The report, created by psychologist Timothy A. Judge from the University of Florida, and Daniel Cable from North Carolina University, looked at data from four longitudinal studies.
These studies followed approximately 8,500 respondents from adolescence through childhood, recording occupations, salaries, and personal characteristics. The studies found that someone who was 6 foot tall earned an average of $166,000 more in their 30-year career than someone who is only 5 feet and 5 inches – even when looking at controlling factors like weight, age, and gender.
The report also concluded that every inch a person has on their height above the average may be worth $789 per year more in salary.
13. Every cm of height is associated with a 1.30% increase in annual income
(Renmin University of China)
A study in China indicates height not only has an impact on your chances of getting a better job (like CEO) but your earning potential too.
According to the report, conducted by researchers from the Renmin University of China, each “cm” of extra height is connected to a potential 1.30% increase in the amount a person earns per year.
This means compared to someone who was five foot and 6 inches earning $50,000 a year, someone just 2 inches taller could earn up to $2,000 more per year. This estimation also looked at other factors commonly associated with career opportunities and earning potential. The researchers examined gender, age, location, and education in the sample.
Notably, this report also used genetic testing to determine whether height’s impact on income and opportunity was explained by genes, and found that increased height was also linked to other advantages, like a higher cognitive ability.
14. An increase of four inches in height can increase earnings by 9.2%
(National Library of Medicine)
In a study into the correlation between height, earnings, and potential job status for people in America and the UK, Anne Case and Christina Paxson found the taller you are, the more you’re likely to earn. An increase in the height of a man from the 25th to the 75th percentile (a rise of 4 inches) led to an increase in earnings of approximately 9.2%.
The report highlighted that part of the reason for this increase in earnings might be access to higher-paying and white-collar jobs like CEO. Notably, the increase in earnings wasn’t balanced by a reduction in salary potential for unusually short professionals.
15. Selection for managerial positions could account for 15% of the height-wage premium
Eric Lindqvist’s study into the relationship between height and leadership found tall men were significantly more likely to obtain managerial and CEO positions.
According to the report, the bias many business leaders have towards hiring taller people for leadership roles could account for the reasons why height is often associated with higher income.
Lindqvist hypothesized that selection for managerial and CEO positions based on height could explain around 15% of the unconditional connection between height and wages in most parts of the world.
So, what have we learned from all of these CEO height statistics?
First and foremost, taller people are more likely to be CEOs than their shorter counterparts. Second, it’s important to note that there is no one “ideal” height for a CEO, as differentiating oneself through approachability or charisma can be accomplished by anyone regardless of stature. Every CEO has their own unique story and set of skills that contribute to their success.
Finally, give yourself time—even if you don’t land the job right out of college—to grow into the position and hone your skills before applying for a top-level executive position.
Having said that, it’s interesting to see which height ranges are more commonly associated with certain job titles – it may be worth considering if you want to aim for a certain role within your company or organization.