Spencer Stuart tracks CEO transitions among S&P 500 companies on a quarterly and annual basis. For the purposes of this analysis, a CEO transition is defined as the replacement of an outgoing CEO with a permanent CEO. The data set includes: names of incoming and outgoing CEOs; the reason for the departure of the former CEO, as reported by the company; the estimated ages of both the outgoing and incoming CEOs; and whether the new CEO was promoted from within or hired externally.
During the first quarter of 2021, 22 S&P 500 companies reported the appointment of a new CEO, only one transition fewer than the record high pace of CEO transitions in the first quarter of 2020.
Sixteen of the outgoing CEOs retired or stepped down. Three CEOs resigned due to health reasons and two were ousted. One CEO role was eliminated due to M&A.
Seventeen of the new CEOs were promoted from within their companies, including 14 who were elevated as part of a planned succession.
Three of the 22 incoming CEOs are women, and all 22 outgoing CEOs are men.
Only one of the CEOs was simultaneously named chair of the board upon appointment.