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Over a quarter of global CEOs to exit top firms in 2023 were sacked study

Over a quarter of global CEOs to exit top firms in 2023 were sacked – study

More than a quarter of bosses who left global listed companies last year were fired, as the pressures facing some of the world’s top leaders are heating up, according to a study.

Meanwhile, the UK remains far behind international peers in the race to achieve gender parity at its leading firms.

Analysis from advisory firm Russell Reynolds Associates found that 178 chief executive officer (CEO) roles changed hands over 2023, amounting to 10% of the top firms across 12 UK and international stock markets.

The number one reason identified for the departures was bosses retiring, accounting for 29% of the total figure.

But 27% of the CEOs were dismissed, meaning they were fired from their role by the business or its board, according to the analysis.

There were 13 changes at chief executive level for companies listed on London’s top stock index, the FTSE 100, last year, equating to the second-highest rate of departures across all the indices tracked.

NatWest’s Dame Alison Rose and BP’s Bernard Looney were among the high-profile bosses who left abruptly last year.

Dame Alison’s exit came after she admitted she had spoken to a journalist about politician Nigel Farage’s relationship with NatWest Group’s bank Coutts.

And Mr Looney’s resigned suddenly after the company said he misled the board by failing to disclose his past relationships with company colleagues.

Luke Meynell, a managing director at Russell Reynolds Associates, said the high level of turnover around the world “reflects the realities of many CEOs coming to terms” with their role changing.

“The pressures on CEOs today are multiplying, from driving net-zero to inflationary, supply chain and economic pressures, all enhanced by Ukraine and Gaza,” he said.

Meanwhile, the UK is more than a century away from achieving a balance in terms of male and female FTSE 100 CEOs, according to the firm’s projections, based on the current trend of appointments.

It will take at least 50 years longer for the FTSE to reach gender parity than the US’s top index, the S&P 500, while France’s Cac 40 could be just 17 years away, the research found.

And based on current trends, some markets, including Germany’s Dax, may never reach gender parity.

In another knock to gender representation at the UK’s top listed firms, Entain’s Jette Nygaard-Andersen and Whitbread’s Alison Brittain stepped down from their CEO roles last year.

Laura Sanderson, Russell Reynolds Associates’ UK lead, said: “Though 2023 saw more women appointed to the CEO role globally than ever before, the rate of change is still too slow if we are going to get to parity in a reasonable time frame.

“Today’s CEOs are expected to be more of a public figure than ever before, and the relative scarcity of female CEOs automatically gives them a higher degree of prominence.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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