Rate of New Women CEOs Slows, But Remains Above Prior Years; First Time AI Replaces a CEO
Published May 18, 2023
The number of CEO changes at U.S. companies rose 6% from the 139 in March to 147 in April. April’s total is up 20% from the 123 CEOs who left their posts in the same month one year prior, according to a report released Thursday by global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
April’s total is the highest total for that month since Challenger began tracking CEO exits in 2002, and the third consecutive month where that is the case.
So far this year, 565 CEOs have left their posts, up 9% from the 518 who left their posts in the first four months of 2022. This is the highest January through April total on record.
“Companies have a lot to consider as we head to the second half of the year, as recession and inflation concerns continue. Many sectors are letting go of workers, and new technologies, like AI, are forcing conversations about use cases. This environment is conducive to new leadership,” said Andrew Challenger, leadership expert and Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
The rate of new CEOs who are women fell in April to 29.5% from March’s 32%. This is still higher than the 26% of new CEOs who were women in January through April last year. Meanwhile, women CEOs leaving the top spot is hovering at 21% through April, the same rate as during the corresponding period in 2022.
Where Are CEO Exits Happening?
Government/Non-Profit led last month with 39 CEO exits, for a total of 124, up 5% from the 118 announced through April last year. Health Care/Products manufacturers and services followed with 24, for a total of 45, virtually matching the 46 announced through April 2022.
The Technology sector, which has seen the most layoffs for the industry since 2002 according to the latest Challenger Report, announced the third most CEO exits in April with 20. For the year, Technology has announced 70 CEO exits, following only the Government/Non-Profit sector, an increase of 49% from the 47 CEO exits recorded through the same period in 2022.
Hospitals have announced 62 CEO exits this year, a 72% increase from the 36 CEO exits announced in the same period in 2022.
Reasons for Exits
Companies are most often not giving reasons for their CEOs’ departures at 182, up 88% from the 97 who left without reason last year.
“It could be that CEOs are leaving for so many reasons — whether because the Board is going in a new direction, or due to the economic headwinds or implications of new technology — that companies are instead focusing on their incoming leaders rather than giving reasons for their departing CEOs,” said Challenger.
Another 131 CEOs retired this year, up 7% from the 122 who retired in the same period last year.
Thirty found new positions within their companies, usually heading another department or company within the company hierarchy. This is up 131% from the 13 who did so during the same period last year.
Will AI Take the CEO Role?
One event and virtual production studio in California reported that an advanced AI system based on ChatGPT will take the reigns as CEO while the “former” CEO will work closely with it, the first time a non-human was announced as chief executive officer in Challenger’s tracking.
“There’s no doubt with the rate at which AI is learning and evolving, many of the tasks of millions of American workers will be improved using it, increasing productivity and efficiency. Perhaps, someday it could climb the leadership ranks, as well,” said Challenger.
# # #
Contact Colleen Madden Blumenfeld for more data or to set up an interview with SVP Andy Challenger.
Download Full Report with Tables