Challenger CEO Turnover Report: Highest CEO Exits on Record; Previous Record in January 2019

Published June 22, 2023

224 CEOs Leave Posts in May

The number of CEO changes at U.S. companies hit the highest total for a single month on record in May with 224, up 52% from the 147 in April. May’s total is up 49% from the 150 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.

May 2023 CEO Challenger Report CEO Departures By Month; 2020, 2021, 2022, Jan - May 2023

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. ©

May’s total is the highest total for a month since Challenger began tracking CEO exits in 2002, after three consecutive months where CEO exits were the highest for that month on record. The next highest month for CEO exits occurred in January 2019 when 219 CEOs left their posts.

“It is significant that so many CEOs are leaving, especially since the last time we saw numbers this high was just prior to Covid-19 lockdowns. Certainly, companies are dealing with some uncertainty heading into the second half of the year surrounding recession concerns, disruptive technology, and high interest rates,” said Andrew Challenger, workplace expert and Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

So far this year, 789 CEOs have left their posts, up 18% from the 668 who left their posts in the first five months of 2022. This is the highest January through May total on record.

Women CEOs

The rate of new CEOs who are women fell in May to 28.8% from 29.5% in April. This remains higher than the rate through the first five months of 2022, when 25% of new CEOs who were women. Meanwhile, women CEOs leaving the top spot ticked up to 22% through May 2023 from 21% through April, and up from 19% during the corresponding period in 2022.

“The talent pipeline for women grew during post-MeToo and during the pandemic, when calls for diversity in the executive ranks were loudest. Some of the rhetoric surrounding diversity initiatives has cooled, and while the public discussion may have fallen, it would be a mistake for companies to stop promoting and supporting women in the C-suite,” said Challenger.

Where Are CEO Exits Happening?

Government/Non-Profit led last month with 58 CEO exits, with 42 being heads of Non-Profits. The sector has seen a total of 182 exits this year, up 18% from the 154 announced through May last year.

The Technology sector, which has seen the most layoffs for the industry since 2002 according to the latest Challenger Report, followed with 21 in May. For the year, Technology has announced 91 CEO exits, an increase of 44% from the 63 CEO exits recorded through the same period in 2022.

The Health Care/Products sector and the Hospitals industry both announced 18 CEO exits last month. Hospitals have announced a total of 80 CEO changes this year, an increase of 70% from the 47 Hospital CEOs who left their posts during the same period in 2022.

“Hospital systems are struggling in a number of areas post-pandemic. Talent shortages, retention, and wages for staff are an issue, while cost of care is rising. Many systems are struggling to operate, and new leadership is needed to attempt to turn things around,” said Challenger.

Reasons for Exits

Companies are most often not giving reasons for their CEOs’ departures at 266, up 89% from the 141 who left without reason last year.

Another 182 CEOs retired this year, up 17% from the 155 who retired in the same period last year.

Four CEOs left amid professional misconduct allegations, such as fraud or mismanagement of funds. Challenger did not track any professional misconduct allegations in 2022 and two in 2021.  One CEO left due to sexual harassment allegations, the same as in 2022.

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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

 

Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. insights and data in additional media coverage.

 

 

Charted: Monthly CEO departures hit 21-year high

PUBLISHED ON JUNE 27, 2023

Read full article here.

Monthly CEO departures remain higher than in previous years. In May, departures hit a 21-year high, according to a new report from Challenger, Gray, & Christmas.

According to the report, 224 CEOs left their positions in May, up 52% from 147 in April and up 49% from the 150 CEOs who left their positions in May 2022.

The report also notes that May’s total is the highest number of CEO departures in a single month since Challenger, Gray, & Christmas began tracking CEO exits in 2002.

The government/non-profit sector saw the most CEO departures in May with 58 followed by the technology sector at 21. The healthcare/products sector and the hospitals sector were tied for the third-most CEO departures in May at 18.

In 2023 so far, the hospitals sector has seen the third -most total CEO departures with 80 and the healthcare/products sector has seen the fourth -most with 63.

 


 

Hospitals saw a 70% increase in hospital CEOs making role changes year over year.

Analysis by Melanie Blackman

PUBLISHED ON June 26, 2023

Read full article here.

The hospital sector was the third highest sector to experience CEO turnover last month, according to a new report from Challenger, Gray, & Christmas Inc.

Following large amounts of CEO exits in the government and nonprofit sector (58) and technology sector (21), the hospital sector saw 18 CEOs make role changes in May.

“Hospital systems are struggling in a number of areas post-pandemic. Talent shortages, retention, and wages for staff are an issue, while cost of care is rising,” Andrew Challenger, SVP of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. said in a statement. “Many systems are struggling to operate, and new leadership is needed to attempt to turn things around.” …

 


 

A record number of CEOs are heading for the exits as companies face a murky future

Published June 22, 2023

Read full article here.

The month of May saw 224 U.S.-based CEOs exit their roles, according to data collected by executive outplacement and coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. That number is up 52% from the 147 CEOs who left their positions in April, and 49% higher than the 150 CEOs who left their jobs in May of last year.

This year overall has been rough for corporate leaders, and 789 CEOs have left their posts, up 18% from the 668 who left through the first five months of 2022, according to the firm. That means that 2023 so far has notched the highest January-through-May corner-office vacancies on record.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas did not give specific reasons for the high turnover rates, but did hint at a tough business climate facing U.S. companies. “Companies are dealing with some uncertainty heading into the second half of the year surrounding recession concerns, disruptive technology, and high interest rates,” said Andrew Challenger, senior vice president at the company, wrote in a statement.

In a follow-up email, Challenger told Fortune that the workplace had “fundamentally changed” over the past three years, and CEOs experience burnout like anyone else.

“CEOs are answering to demands for remote and hybrid work, the effects of worker burnout and talent shortages, calls for increased diversity and mental health support as well as a difficult-to-predict economic picture,” he said. …

 


 

Becker's Hospital Review logo

Hospital CEO exits climb 70% year over year

Published June 22, 2023

Read full article here

“Hospital systems are struggling in a number of areas post-pandemic. Talent shortages, retention, and wages for staff are an issue, while cost of care is rising. Many systems are struggling to operate, and new leadership is needed to attempt to turn things around,” Andrew Challenger, workplace expert and senior vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in the report.

Across all 29 industries and sectors measured, the 789 CEO exits recorded in the first five months of 2023 were up 18 percent from the 668 CEOs who left their posts in the same period in 2022. It is the highest January through May total on record. May’s specific total (224) is the highest total for a month since Challenger, Gray & Christmas began tracking CEO exits in 2002.

“It is certainly significant that so many CEOs are leaving, especially since the last time we saw numbers this high was just prior to COVID-19 lockdowns. Certainly, companies are dealing with some uncertainty heading into the second half of the year surrounding recession concerns, disruptive technology, and high interest rates,” Mr. Challenger said. …

 


 

There are worrisome implications when executives sit on several boards at once

By Lila MacLellan

Published June 26, 2023

CEOs are rolling out of their corner offices at record rates, according to research firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. There were 224 CEO changes at U.S. companies in May, a steep jump from 147 in April and 150 in May last year.

 


 

 

24/7 Wall St Logo

May CEO Departures Hit All-Time High; One Replaced by AI

By Paul Ausick

PUBLISHED ON JUNE 22, 2023

Read full article here.

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported Thursday morning that the number of CEO departures in May reached the highest single-month total since the company began tracking the data in 2002.

The number of departures in May totaled 224, up from 114 in April and up from 150 in May 2002. Last month’s total displaced January 2020’s previous record total of 219 departures.

And we all remember what else happened then. Senior Vice President Andrew Challenger commented:

SVP Andy Challenger, "It is certainly significant that so many CEOs are leaving, especially since the last time we saw numbers this high was just prior to Covid-19 lockdowns. Certainly, companies are dealing with some uncertainty heading into the second half of the year surrounding recession concerns, disruptive technology, and high interest rates."

From 24/7 Wall St.

Perhaps the most interesting change was one CEO replaced by artificial intelligence. Challenger, Gray does not name the company, but it is worth noting that China-based gaming company NetDragon Websoft appointed an AI robot it calls Tang Yu as its CEO last August. Legal software company Logikcull CEO and co-founder Andy Wilson has said he will replace himself with an AI bot named Andy Woofson by 2024.

 


 

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