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Draft:Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants

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The Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC) is a not-for-profit, section 501(c)(6) founded in 1959 and headquartered in New York. AESC serves as the global standards-setting body and professional trade association for the more than $16B USD[1] executive search and leadership advisory profession. Member organizations of AESC vary, spanning from global executive search and leadership advisory firms to smaller regional and boutique search firms. Collectively, AESC represents 16,000+ individual executive recruitment and advisory professionals working in 1,200+ offices located in over 70 countries. Membership is open to firms who pass a stringent vetting process[2] that ensures the firm’s work is conducted at the level outlined in the AESC Code of Professional Practice.

The organization collaborates with various other organizations such as The Conference Board and The 30% Club.


AESC was founded on December 18, 1959, first as the Association of Executive Recruiting Consultants (AERC), with the goal to set quality standards and ethics for the growing executive search profession.[3] According to the December 1959 by-laws, the objective of the association was established as follows:

To develop, maintain and enforce high standards of ethical professional practice and rigorous membership requirements, which will make membership in the association a recognized mark of experience, stability, competence, and reliability; To develop and improve the practice of executive recruiting; To provide a fuller and wider understanding of the function of executive recruiting in our economy; To gather and maintain factual information about executive recruiting firms; To establish and enforce a code of conduct and practice which will further the objectives of the association.

The founding member organizations of AERC included: Ashton Dunn Associates; Elmer H. Davis & Associates; Antell & Wright; Hoff, Canny, Bowen & Associates; Richardson, Bellows, Henry & Co; Ward Howell Associates (later Signium); William H. Clark Associates; Wright Porter Inc.

In 1982, AERC changed its name to the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC). The new name was intended to more accurately reflect the work undertaken by the search consultant, distinct from the recruiting undertaken by employment agencies.[4] In the same year, AESC launched its AESC Awards program, honoring lifetime achievement in the executive search profession and recognizing the highest standards of work by individual search consultants.

In 1994, the association convened a Special Task Force on Diversity. Not only did the task force discover and acknowledge under-representation of women and minorities in the search industry, but it also revealed advantages to diverse staff. AESC member firms stressed that a pro-active stance toward diversity made them more competitive.[4] AESC continues to monitor and support diversity efforts in the industry.[5]

Throughout the 1990s, there was significant global expansion in executive recruiting, which led AESC to establish an AESC Europe and Africa Council in 1996 and an Asia Pacific and Middle East Council in 2004. Today AESC has members in more than 70 countries.

In November 2000, AESC launched its BlueSteps service to educate the global candidate community on the executive search process and to connect them with reputable executive search firms committed to the ethical treatment of candidates.

In 2014, the association again changed it's name to the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants while maintaining the AESC acronym. This was done to in recognition of many AESC member firms expanding into leadership consulting. This shift expansion of the association's preview influenced the 2015 launch of Executive Talent, a print and digital magazine focused on key talent and leadership issues and dedicated to today's corporate officers and boards of directors.


AESC's mission, as included on their website, states:

AESC and its members share a deep commitment to the highest quality standards in executive search and leadership consulting—for the benefit of clients and the profession. Through collaboration and innovative thinking, we deliver the future of global leadership today.


AESC's programs consist of different learning and networking opportunities that provide its members with market research and reports, as well as encourages members to partake in various professional education courses, peer exchange forums, conferences and webinars. Additionally, AESC presents six awards, recognizing members for personal achievements and contributions to their firm, the profession, and the communities in which they serve.

BlueSteps, AESC's comprehensive career service for global executives, also provides regular insights into the industry to help candidates and leaders build a competitive business plan for their careers. Recent studies have discussed job optimism in foreign markets[6] [7] , an increasing desire for agile leaders and business plans due to digital technologies [8] , and onboarding programs specifically for executives. [9]


The current AESC President and CEO is Karen Greenbaum.[10] A full list of staff can be found in the organization's directory.

For a list of current member organizations, see


  1. "Corporate headhunters are more powerful than ever". The Economist. 2020-02-06. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  2. "Prospective Members". AESC. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  3. "About AESC". AESC. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "A Proud History: Executive Search Firms and the AESC". Alder Koten. 2019-04-09. Retrieved 2021-01-31.
  5. "The AESC Diversity Pledge". AESC. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  6. Umarji, Vinay (2019-03-22). "India second globally in job optimism among senior executives: Survey". Business Standard India. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  7. Modgil, Shweta (2018-07-24). "India ranks in top three markets for executive job growth for 2018: Karen Greenbaum, AESC". People Matters. Retrieved 2021-01-24. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  8. Mitchell, Vanessa (24 May 201). "Digital drive creating war for executive talent". Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  9. "This is How to Really Set Your New Execs Up for Success". 2019-08-14. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  10. "Karen Greenbaum". Forbes Councils. Retrieved 2021-01-24.

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