New Women CEOs Replacement Rate Posts Record

In the first six months of 2020, 591 CEOs of U.S. companies have been replaced. Of that total, 138 women were appointed to the top job, a replacement of 23.4%.

According to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, that rate is the highest recorded since the firm began tracking in 2010. In the first half of 2019, women accounted for 21.6% of new CEOs, up from 18.6% in the first half of 2018.

For all of 2019, however, women took over the CEO job 21.7% of the time, down from an annual rate of 22.5% in 2018. In all of 2019, 308 women were named CEOs out of a total of 1,422 replacements.

Challenger, Gray Vice President Andrew Challenger noted that women replacements still account for less than one-quarter of all replacements and that the rate is even lower for women of color.

Challenger also said, “In the wake of nationwide protests for racial equity, many companies have made public statements that they will strive for more diversity. It remains to be seen how this will translate to meaningful change.”

In the first six months of 2020, 46 women have replaced former women CEOs and 92 women have replaced men. Men have replaced 54 women CEOs so far this year and replaced 399 former men CEOs.

The government/nonprofit sector has seen the most new CEOs so far this year, with 94. Of that total, 55 (58.5%) were women and 32 of those women replaced men in the top job.

The tech sector experienced the second-highest turnover as 79 CEOs have been replaced this year. Just eight new CEOs are women, a replacement rate of just over 10% compared to a rate of 6.7% in the first half of last year.

The third-highest CEO turnover rate came in the health care/health products sector, where 58 new CEOs took over in the first six months of 2020. Of that total, 13 (22.4%) were women.

In seven sectors, not a single woman replaced a departing male CEO: automotive, cannabis, chemical, consumer products, electronics, legal, real estate and telecommunications. A total of 41 CEOs were replaced in those six industries.

Challenger, Gray reported earlier this month that 663 CEOs were replaced in the first six months of 2020. A replacement has not been named in all those instances. The firm updates its gender replacement data once a new CEO is named.