Top position cannot escape the big wave of departures: many more new CEOs

This is shown by research that the American recruitment agency Heidrick & Struggles conducts annually among 1,095 CEOs at the largest listed companies in 24 countries, including the US, China and European countries, including the Netherlands.

Gradient peaks

In the first half of the year, the trend of the chief executive officer: 103 companies appointed a new person with ultimate responsibility within their board, compared to 49 in the six months before.

It therefore seems that CEOs are not immune to a phenomenon that is occurring in America The Great Resignation or The Big Quit and in which more than 11 million people voluntarily quit their jobs in the first six months of 2021.

New lifestyle

It is suspected that the corona pandemic has prompted many people to find a new job or lifestyle. Something that is happening much less in the Netherlands for the time being: the Dutch labor market is currently moving much less because people here are still cautious.

The top position in large companies, like so many other jobs, looks different because of the rapid changes that have taken place over the past 18 months, the researchers conclude.

Endless meetings

“Many CEOs didn’t have to travel that much,” said Jeff Sanders, one of the researchers, in an interview with Reuters. Where this actually saved energy, working from home a lot and especially endless virtual meetings and communication, just as for their employees, was especially ‘exhausting’.

Incidentally, the changes at the top of companies are not only caused by self-selected dismissal. Most of the companies surveyed kept their leaders in place amid the corona crisis last year, but since the vaccines have brought relief, companies feel stable enough to look for a new CEO.

“Our belief is that the number of job changes will only accelerate in the coming years because people have postponed their retirement,” said Sanders.

In addition, the lack of physical meetings seems to be an advantage for the applicants who were already employed: almost two-thirds of the new CEOs were internal candidates, compared to just over half in the same period last year.

Diversity lags behind

The shift at the top of the surveyed companies does not seem to result in much more diversity. 13 percent of new CEOs in the past six months were women, compared to 6 percent in the previous six months.

In addition, the CEOs of the Fortune ranking of 100 US companies with the largest turnover show that 3 percent are black, 4 percent Hispanic or Latino, 4 percent Asian and 1 percent are from the Middle East. That is much less than the proportion of these populations in the American population.

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