#MeToo cited as factor in 2019 CEO turnover rates

The #MeToo movement raised the bar for CEO behavior, contributing in part to record CEO turnover in 2019, according to executive outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Challenger counted 1,640 instances of CEOs leaving their roles in 2019 — turnover that is 12.9 percent higher than 2018 and the highest rate since 2002, when the firm began tracking the metric. Much of this turnover was routine: 395 CEOs retired, 154 took a position at a new company and 80 left when interim periods ended, for example. In hospitals, 121 CEOs changed roles.

While it is difficult to know the true impact of #MeToo, Andrew Challenger, the firm's vice president, believes it had at least some effect on turnover. "Following the #MeToo movement, companies were determined to hold CEOs accountable for lapses in judgement pertaining to professional and personal conduct, creating higher ethical standards at the C-level," he said in a press release.  "What may have gone unrecognized or was downplayed in the past was not overlooked by boards, shareholders, or the general public in 2019."

Challenger reports that only three CEOs definitively left amid allegations of sexual misconduct in 2019. However, 20 left due to scandal, 15 left over professional misconduct and two "amid investigation." Another 583 CEOs stepped down, 138 resigned and 24 were fired.

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