Thursday AM May 14th, 2009

Departures by chief executive officers have slowed significantly, according to outplacement firm challenger, Gray & Christmas. But as Ed Mayberry reports, some CEOS may have the recession to thank for their jobs.

image of business people

Challenger, Gray & Christmas says CEO departures are the lowest since December 2004.  So far this year, 387 CEO exits were recorded — nearly 100 fewer than the 483 announced during the same period last year.  John Challenger says companies are hanging on to leadership to maintain stability in the volatile economy.

“Certainly one of the reasons is the economy’s in rough shape.  Looks like organizations just don’t want to take the risk of letting their leader go when there’s not much hope yet of recovery, and leaving their company in the lurch.  Another reason seems to be that merger and acquisition activity has really slowed down, and that was a real driver of CEO turnover over the past few years.”

Many CEOs are staying at their posts, knowing that opportunities might be limited.  There’s a lot less risk-taking, according to the monthly survey.

“It may not be until the economy starts to recover that we really see companies moving out the risk-adverse careful CEOs that are in place now for more pro-active, perhaps business development-oriented CEOs that’ll come and be needed in the next wave of growth.”

Many resigning CEOs stepped down into other positions, such as chairman or executive chairman, or simply retired. 

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.