Among the 2,500 largest listed groups in the world, 17.5% experienced a change of boss in 2018, against 14.5% a year earlier. The phenomenon is stronger in Western Europe. The number of departures for “ethical breaches” is on the rise.

Jean Dominique Senard, CEO of Renault, director of the Saint Gobain group

A real set of musical chairs. The year 2018 was marked by a record turnover at the head of companies, according to a study by Strategy &, the strategy consulting entity of the PwC firm. Among the 2,500 largest groups listed on the stock exchange in the world, 17.5% experienced a change of boss last year, against 14.5% a year earlier.

The phenomenon is more pronounced in Western Europe, where it is close to the 20% mark (19.8%). That is five points more than in North America (14.7%).

And all sectors of activity are not in the same boat. The PwC firm thus observes a higher turnover in communication (24.5%), raw materials (22.3%) and energy (19.7%). Conversely, turnover is limited to 11.6% in the health sector.

“Ethical breaches”

Another underlying trend: nearly 40% of bosses dismissed (20% of departures provoked) were “for” ethical breaches “, observe the authors of the study. They are more numerous than those who were dismissed from their posts due to poor financial performance. This phenomenon can be explained in particular by “the more frequent intervention of regulatory authorities”, indicate the authors of the study, without giving more details.

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Women continue to be grossly under-represented. They are only 4.9% to manage large groups worldwide (5.5% in Western Europe), compared to 6% in 2017. It should be noted that the public services sector has more than bosses. At 9.5%, parity is still far from being reached.

Average age of 53

On average, business leaders are 53 years old. Some 17% of new bosses come from another company. And 15% come from a country other than that of the company.

Finally, 33% of managers have had professional experience abroad. A figure down 12 points compared to 2012 (45%).