Daily Briefing

Charted: CEO departures hit record high in 2023


The number of CEO departures at U.S. companies is up nearly 50% from 2022 and hit the highest total in the first nine months of the year in over two decades, according to a new report from Challenger, Gray, & Christmas.

CEO departures hit record high

According to the report, 1,425 CEOs have left their roles so far this year as of September, up 47% from the 969 departures during the same time period last year and the highest total in the first nine months of the year since Challenger, Gray, & Christmas began tracking in 2002.

In September, 164 CEOs left their positions, up 4.5% from the 157 departures in August and 122% from the 74 departures in September 2022.

In the third quarter of 2023, 518 CEOs left their posts, the most in a single quarter on record, and up 166% from the 195 departures in the third quarter of 2022.

Government and non-profit businesses saw the most CEO departures in September with 28 and has seen 353 total exits so far this year, up 86% from the 190 departures through September last year.

Hospitals saw the second-most CEO departures in September with 24, and through September, hospitals have seen 125 CEO departures, 67% higher than the 75 announced during the same time period last year.

Why CEOs are leaving

A study from Equilar found that "forever CEOs" are becoming more of a rarity. The study found that the median tenure length for S&P 500 CEOs was six years in 2013 and dropped to 4.8 years in 2022.

Most commonly, companies don't give reasons for their CEOs' departures. Of the CEO departures that have occurred in 2023 so far, companies have not provided a reason in 448 of them, which is up 24% from last year.

Of those who did report a reason, 22% of CEO departures this year have been retirements, down slightly from 24% during the same time period last year. In addition, 45 CEOs found new positions within their companies, 241 "stepped down" into other C-level, advisory, or Board roles, eight have left due to allegations of professional misconduct, and two have left due to sexual harassment allegations. (Challenger, Gray, & Christmas press release, 10/19; Gooch, Becker's Hospital Review, 11/9)


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