By Emma Hinchliffe
September 12, 2018

Turnover among U.S. CEOs is at an all-time high—and more women are stepping in to take the reins.

In August, 154 CEOs left their roles, according to a report by global outplacement consultancy and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas. The report tracks CEO turnover across companies of different sizes—from startup to Fortune 500—using SEC filings, corporate announcements, and media reports.

August’s stat is the highest number of CEOs to leave in a single month since the firm started tracking turnover in 2002. The month with the second-highest turnover was September 2006, with 152 departures.

August turnover is 64% higher than turnover in July, when 94 CEOs departed, and 60% higher than this time last year, when 96 CEOs left their posts. So far this year, a total of 879 chiefs have been displaced. Most of those changes in leadership were because the executive “stepped down,” followed by retirement, and resignation as the top three reasons given.

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Of those 879 CEOs, 152 were women. That included PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, who announced she would step down in August. Her departure left the Fortune 500 list with one fewer female CEO, with PepsiCO president Ramón Laguarta taking over her role at the company. When Fortune debuted its 2018 Fortune 500 list of America’s biggest corporations in May, just 25 companies—or 5%—were led by women.

But when you broaden the lens to include smaller companies as well, women are actually landing a larger share of the top spots. Although 152 women have stepped down as CEOs this year, 161 women have replaced departing chiefs, according to the report. Those 161 women account for 22% of 716 total announced CEO replacements.

The government and nonprofit sectors are seeing the most turnover, followed by what Challenger, Gray and Christmas call the “computer” industry and the financial sector.

Women still aren’t anywhere near parity in top roles, but at least as companies make changes in leadership, women’s representation is holding steady.

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