Published December 9, 2020

Last month, the nation’s employers announced 110 chief executive officer changes, up 19.6% from the 92 CEO exits recorded in October, according to a report released Wednesday by global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

November’s total was 25.7% lower than the 148 CEO exits reported in the same month last year. For the year, 1,218 chief executives have left their roles, down 17.7% from the 1,480 CEOs who announced their departures in the first eleven months of last year.

In what industries did the most CEO exits occur?

Health Care companies except for Hospitals announced the highest number of changes last month, with 17, bringing the year-to-date total to 123, a 21.8% increase from the 101 CEOs who left their positions in this sector during the same period last year. These firms include health care products manufacturers and distributors, clinics, and health specialists.

“The pandemic has impacted every sector, but Health Care companies specifically have had to navigate a shifting landscape, especially as all hands have been needed for COVID and other elective visits and procedures have often been put on hold,” said Andrew Challenger, Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Hospitals announced 7 CEO exits in November for a total of 97 in 2020, down 7.6% from the 105 announced through the same period last year.

The Government/Non-Profit sector announced the second-highest number of exits, and also leads all sectors in turnover, with 14 changes in November. So far this year, these entities have announced 216 CEO changes, down 30.3% from the 310 announced through November 2019.

Financial companies announced 11 CEO exits last month for a total of 72, down 36% from the 112 CEOs who left their posts through November last year. Technology firms announced 136 CEO changes so far in 2020, 10 in November, 32% lower than the 200 announced during the same time period last year.

Outgoing and Incoming CEOs

Outgoing CEOs were older on average in November than any other month this year. Last month, outgoing CEOs were an average of 60.3 years old, the oldest age for outgoing CEOs since August 2019, when exiting CEOs were an average of 68.5.

The rate of new CEOs who are women remained below 23% for the second consecutive month as 22.9% of incoming CEOs were women through November this year. This is higher than the rate of new women CEOs in 2019, when 21.7% were women.

Why did CEOs leave?

Of those who gave a reason for leaving their position this year, the majority of CEOs (324) stepped down, meaning they stayed with the company for a period of time after leaving the position. Another 275 announced retirements and 128 saw their interim periods end. Some companies provided more specifics: 17 left due to a scandal (usually something that resulted in legal proceedings, such as financial mismanagement or fraud), four left due to allegations of racism or racism-related issues, three left amid allegations of professional misconduct, and one left amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

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Contact Colleen Madden Blumenfeld for more data or to set up an interview with SVP Andy Challenger.

Contact Challenger for Media Inquiries


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