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Surge in U.S. CEO Departures Hits Record High -- report

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by Sakthi Prasad , Director - Content
23 October 2023

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In a remarkable shift in the U.S. corporate leadership landscape, CEO departures have skyrocketed by 47% in the first nine months of 2023 compared to the same period last year, according to a new report by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc, a global outplacement services firm.

The report highlights that 1,425 chief executives had left their posts by September this year, a significant leap from the 969 departures recorded from January to September in 2022. This trend underscores the highest rate of CEO turnovers witnessed since the company started tracking these movements in 2002.

This surge is further emphasized by the 164 CEOs who left their positions in September 2023 alone, a figure that represents a 4.5% increase from the preceding month and a remarkable 122% spike from the 74 departures noted in September of the previous year.

The third quarter of 2023 was particularly volatile, witnessing 518 CEO departures, the highest ever recorded for a single quarter and a 166% increase from the same quarter in 2022.

"Companies are revving up for economic changes in the coming months. With the rise of labor costs and interest rates, companies are looking to new leaders," said Andrew Challenger, Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

CEO exits were most prominent in the Government/Non-Profit sector, followed by Hospitals, Services, and Technology industries. Notably, the reasons for these departures remain largely undisclosed, with retirements accounting for 22% of exits.

Amidst the high turnover, there's a silver lining concerning gender diversity in the executive realm. The report by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. indicates a steady hold in the appointment of women in CEO positions, with the rate of new female CEOs remaining consistent at 29% throughout 2023, a slight but positive uptick from the 26% observed during the same period in 2022.  This trend signifies a gradual but noticeable shift towards gender inclusivity in the highest echelons of corporate leadership, even in a time of significant overall turnover.

Furthermore, the departure rate for female CEOs has also seen an increase, currently standing at 22%, a rise from the 18% noted during the corresponding period the previous year.

challenger ceo turnover report


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