US-based firms announced 167 CEO changes in February, up from 112 in January and up from 151 in February 2022; year-to-date, 279 CEOs have left their positions, virtually unchanged year-over-year: Challenger, Gray & Christmas

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March 29, 2023 (press release) –

31% of Incoming CEOs are Women, Highest on Record

The number of CEO changes at U.S. companies surged 49% from the 112 in January to 167 last month. February’s total is up 11% from the 151 CEOs who left their posts in the same month one year prior, according to a report released Wednesday by global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. ©

February’s total is the highest monthly total since 219 CEOs left their posts in January 2020. So far this year, 279 CEOs have left their posts, virtually matching the 276 that occurred in the first two months of 2022.

“The jump in CEO exits in February suggests companies are gearing up for a lot of change in the coming months,” said Andrew Challenger, leadership expert and Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Where Are CEO Exits Happening?
Government/Non-Profit led all industries in February with 40 exits for a total of 58, on pace with the 56 in this industry last year.

Hospitals announced 18 CEO exits for a total of 41, 58% higher than the 26 announced through February last year.

“We will likely continue to see increased CEO exits in hospitals as they recover from the pandemic, consolidate, and respond to both worker shortages and increased costs,” said Challenger.

The Financial industry, which is seeing impacts from recession concerns and mortgage rate hikes, announced the third-highest total of CEO exits with 15 for a total of 33, 106% higher than the 16 who left their posts through February 2022.

The Technology sector announced 15 CEO changes last month, as the industry conducts layoffs. So far this year, 32 Technology CEOs have left their posts, up 19% from the 27 who did so in the same period last year. Through February, the Technology industry has announced 63,216, up 33,705% from the 187 cuts announced in the same period last year. This sector has announced 35% of all job cuts in 2023, according to the February Challenger Report.

CEOs exited 45 public entities through February, up slightly from the 41 public companies that had CEO changes through February 2022.

Reasons for Exits
Sixty-eight CEOs retired so far this year, similar to the 65 CEOs who did so in January and February of 2022. Another 47 stepped down into, typically, a Board or other C-level role, and 16 found new positions within their companies, usually in other divisions or markets.

Ten saw their interim terms end, while 4 were terminated from their positions this year.

Women CEOs
An all-time high of 31% of new CEOs are women in the first two months of the year. In 2022, 26% percent of new CEOs were women, up from 23% in 2020 and 22% in 2019. A higher rate of women are leaving the CEO role: 22% of exiting CEOs were women so far in 2023, up from 17% through February 2022.

“More women coming into the top role than leaving is a great sign for businesses, as that number inches closer to 50%. It’s still far from equitable, but companies committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, and we’re starting to see it unfold at the top” said Challenger.

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. ©

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

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