Published June 27, 2024

The number of CEO changes at U.S. companies fell 6% to 119 in May, from 126 in April. It is down 47% from record-high 224 CEO exits recorded in the same month last year, according to a report released Thursday by global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

May’s total marks the second time in 15 months that CEO exits were lower than the corresponding month a year earlier. So far this year, 867 CEOs have announced their departures, the highest year-to-date total on record. It is up 9.9% from 789 exits that occurred during the same period last year, which was the previous year-to-date record.

“Companies are taking a breather on leadership changes as the labor market holds steady. Many companies are likely also taking a wait-and-see approach in this election year,” said Andrew Challenger, Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Women CEOs

The rate of new CEOs who are women held steady at 28.7% in May, and down slightly from the 29% of new CEOs who were women during the same period last year. Twenty-two percent of exiting CEOs were women through May, similar to the 21.5% of women who left the top spot last year.

“It’s troubling that the percent of women who are coming into the CEO role is falling off of last year’s pace. There has been a trend away from diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging efforts that is no doubt impacting leadership pipelines. This is a mistake,” said Challenger.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. ©

Where are CEO Exits Happening?

Government/Non-Profit is leading all industries this year with 205 CEO exits, 22 of which occurred in May. This is up 13% from the 182 CEO exits in this sector during the same period last year.

Healthcare/Products companies have announced the second-most CEO changes in May with 15 for a total of 81 CEO changes this year. This is up 29% from the 63 CEO exits announced through the same period last year.

The Services sector announced 11 CEO exits in May for a total of 47, virtually the same as the 50 who left their posts through May 2023.

Hospitals and Financial firms announced 10 CEO exits last month. Hospitals have announced 50 CEO exits through May, down 38% from the 80 Hospital CEOs who left their posts through the same period last year. Financial firms have announced 49 CEO exits this year, down 17% from the 59 CEOs who left through May 2023.

Technology announced 9 CEO exits in May, for a total of 93, up 2% from the 91 CEO exits announced through May of last year.

Reasons for Exits

Companies most often are not disclosing reasons for their CEOs’ departures last, with 247 cases (28% of all CEO exits).

Another 181 CEOs have retired this year, accounting for 21% of all exits, compared to 23% of CEOs who retired in the same period last year.

Meanwhile, 209 CEOs “stepped down” into other C-level, advisory, or Board roles, making up 24% of all exits. Another 57 CEOs saw their interim periods end, while 32 cited new opportunities.

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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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