Year-End CEO Report: 1,246 CEO Changes in 2013, More Women in Top Spot

Departures among the nation’s chief executive officers ticked up in December as 99 CEOs left their posts during the month. That is 5.3 percent more than the 94 CEO departures recorded in November, according to a report released Wednesday by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The December total was down 4.0 percent from the same month a year ago when 103 CEO exits were announced. Over the final three months of 2013, 297 CEO changes were announced 14.6 percent fewer than the 348 changes in the third quarter. The fourth-quarter total was down 8.0 percent from the comparable period in 2012, when 323 CEOs left their posts.

Overall, Challenger tracked 1,246 CEO changes in 2013, 2.6 percent more than the 1,214 departures announced through all of 2012.

Health Care led all industries in CEO turnover this year with 265, 70 of which occurred in the last quarter of the year. Of those, 52 were from hospitals and health clinics. The government and non-profit sector followed with 178 CEO departures for the year, including 45 last quarter. The annual total for this sector was virtually unchanged from last year’s total of 179.

Third-ranked financial services saw 143 CEOs leave their posts last year, 16 percent more than the 123 CEO changes recorded in 2012. Computer firms announced 121 CEO changes in 2013, a 4.7 percent decrease from 2012. Meanwhile, CEOs in the Entertainment/Leisure sector, those in hospitality, dining, and entertainment, came in fifth with 48 recorded CEO changes, down slightly from 50 recorded in 2012.

The most notable announcement in December came from General Motors which announced that retiring CEO Dan Akerson will be replaced by Mary Barra, the company’s first female CEO, and in fact, the first female CEO of a global auto maker.

According to Challenger’s data, 159 female CEOs left their posts in 2013. Of those, 44 were replaced by other women. Of the 1,087 men who left their posts last year, 116 were replaced by women, while 746 were replaced by other men. This is a slight improvement over last year, when 148 women left the CEO role, and 136 rose to the top spot.

“We’ve seen several major corporations choose powerful women as their CEOs in recent years, including announcements from Yahoo, Hewlett-Packard, CH2M Hill, and now General Motors. Our numbers still show that the CEO office is still predominantly male, but we may see those numbers change in coming years, as these high-profile female CEOs prove their capabilities and traditional gender roles fall away,” said John Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
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