One survey that slipped under my radar this summer was Korn Ferry’s summary and findings about the chief communications officer at Fortune 500 companies.

Released in June, the report from the talent consultancy’s global corporate affairs practice was collated in March and April this year from 82 participants across various different business sectors. The last time Korn Ferry conducted the process was back in 2015.

Just as we have been portraying at PRWeek across our various channels and convening opportunities, the report reaffirms that CCOs are acting as trusted advisers to CEOs and the C-suite across most significant issues and playing a critical role in organizations.

Teams are growing, as are the resources allocated to them and their remuneration packages. The average base salary for half of the communicators surveyed was above $400,000, with more than a third cashing annual salary checks of $450,000 and more, up from 18% in 2015.

Most have bonus targets of 50% and more of base, one in four can hit 80% of base if all goes well. Long-term incentive plans of more than 50% of base are the norm for two-thirds of respondents, 37% can hit three-quarters or more of their base salary as an LTIP. It’s good to see lead communicators’ compensation linked to business success on a number of levels.  

Of course, it behooves a talent firm to big up these findings as it validates what it does for its candidates and clients, but still, the insights are significant.

People obsess a little about reporting lines and, in truth, as long as the dotted lines and relationships are good the exact person the CCO reports to isn’t necessarily crucial. However, the majority (40%) do report directly to the CEO – up slightly from 37% in 2015.

Next is CHRO (13%), general counsel (11%) and CMO, which is down from 12% in 2015 to just 9% now. Korn Ferry attributes these shifts to an increased focus on employee engagement, crisis comms and more complex legislative and regulatory environments.

Teams are also growing to reflect this extra responsibility, with 25% of respondents now having teams of 100-plus, up from 16% in 2015 – 10% of that cohort boast teams in excess of 250 people, up from 4% eight years ago.

Corporate comms, media relations, issues and crisis and social and digital are the primary responsibilities of the CCO role, with corporate reputation and internal comms growing. But media relations is still very important and the primary skill that 49% of the Fortune 500 CCOs surveyed look for when hiring their teams.

In terms of gender and ethnic diversity there is still work to be done – 57% of CCOs are women, 40% men (2% chose not to answer), which is good but doesn’t reflect the overall workforce, which is 75% female. But only 14% of CCOs are BIPOC, with 84% reporting as white or Caucasian.

Given that 70% of the CCOs surveyed have more than 25 years of experience and 24% have 20-24 years, it’s not surprising that it is taking time to change the profile of the average incumbent in these roles.

PRWeek announced its 2023 Hall of Fame class this week, which included Walmart’s Dan Bartlett and Microsoft’s Frank Shaw. IBM’s Jonathan Adashek will receive the inaugural David Finn Award, produced in partnership with PRWeek and Ruder Finn.

All three are very experienced and superb practitioners of their craft. But I’m looking forward to the time when there will be many more female and ethnically diverse client-side candidates to choose from when we come to picking future Hall of Famers.

*For much more engaging and in-depth content about the history and future of the PRWeek industry, please do check our website early on Tuesday morning when we drop our full package of 25th anniversary content. There will be lots of gems to dig into and we hope you enjoy it.

This article originally appeared on PRWeek US.