Why Jim Hackett, other major CEOs are stepping down in 2020


Not even CEOs are safe from the wrath of 2020.

From Disney to Ford to Bleacher Report, heads are rolling at the top of America’s most recognizable companies. Whether from resignations, firings or retirements, the blood is flowing as companies from all industries experience a changing of the guard.

Here’s who lost their job in 2020:

Jim Hackett, Ford

Jim Farley will be replacing Jim Hackett as CEO of Ford in October.
Jim Farley will be replacing Jim Hackett as CEO of Ford in October.EPA

Ford on Tuesday announced that chief executive Jim Hackett would be retiring after three years at the helm of the automaker. Hackett, 65, took over at the 119-year-old company in May of 2017 and quickly pulled the company out of the sedan business in favor of SUVs and trucks.

But poor fourth-quarter financial performance in February made evident that his reign would be short, as did the botched launch of the Explorer SUV. Hackett will be replaced by Jim Farley on Oct. 1, who has been with the company for more than a decade and served as COO since February.

Bob Iger, Disney

Bob Iger
Bob IgerFilmMagic

The CEO of the Mouse House has been synonymous with Disney over the last 15 years, but stepped down abruptly in February. Iger, 69, took on the title of executive chairman and will continue to help lead the company’s creative endeavors until his contract runs out at the end of 2021.

Iger helped turn Disney into the all-powerful media titan that it is today, leading its acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars.

His departure caught analysts and investors off guard, but Iger at the time said that the timing was “actually quite simple.”

“What I want to accomplish before I leave the company in ’21, getting everything right creatively right would be my No. 1 goal,” Iger said. “I could not do that if I was running the company on a day-to-day basis.”

But less than two months after stepping down, Iger returned to the forefront, taking an “active” role in assisting new CEO Bob Chapek as the company was crushed by the impact of the coronavirus.

“A crisis of this magnitude, and its impact on Disney, would necessarily result in my actively helping Bob and the company contend with it, particularly since I ran the company for 15 years!” Iger said.

Audrey Gelman, The Wing

Audrey Gelman
Audrey GelmanGetty Images

The chief executive of the popular women-focused co-working space resigned in June amid outrage from employees over how the company treats people of color.

Gelman announced her resignation during a “digital walkout” by staffers, and the company did not explain the reason for her departure other than to say the shakeup would “allow us to create a sustainable business, and achieve the bold vision of advancing all women through community.”

Gelman started The Wing in 2016 as a “utopia” for professional women. But a New York Times Magazine report in March documented how employees faced racism from the club’s well-heeled members and worked long days under pressure to keep the spaces spotless.

The company also laid off almost all of its hourly employees and half the corporate staff in April after revenue dried up during the coronavirus pandemic.

Richelieu Dennis, Essence Magazine

Richelieu Dennis
Richelieu DennisGetty Images for ESSENCE

Dennis was ousted from Essence after a group dubbed Black Female Anonymous published a scathing exposé about the alleged conditions of working at the magazine.

The women claimed that Dennis had a “surface-level commitment to Black women” but that he is actually “driven by greed and a debaucherous sexual appetite.”

They also alleged that “he has a history of sleeping with women on the Sundial staff [the beauty brand that produces SheaMoisture, and which he sold to Unilever in 2017] … For the women who don’t seemingly consent, he openly sexually harasses them at private company events.”

Sources told Page Six that Dennis’ role as CEO was always intended to be temporary; he had just taken over in March, after Michelle Ebanks stepped down and moved to the board of Essence Ventures — where Dennis remains the chair.

Steph Korey, Away

The boss of the trendy luggage brand has resigned twice in the past year. Korey first announced plans to step aside as CEO in December in the wake of The Verge’s damning report detailing a ruthless corporate culture at the buzzy suitcase brand she co-founded.

She initially apologized for attacking her employees and said she would become Away’s executive chairman, but was back within weeks, saying she would serve as co-CEO with Stuart Haselden.

Korey second falling out came in July after Away staffers expressed concerns about her posts on Instagram, where she suggested journalists target female executives because stories about them get more “clicks.” She also mused that it should be easier to sue news organizations for defamation because “misrepresentation *is* the business model of some outlets.”

In response, Haselden and Away president Jen Rubio said Korey will leave her post by the end of the year after she returns from maternity leave in August. They told employees in a Thursday email that Korey’s posts “do not reflect or affect our current company priorities.”

Mandy Ginsberg, Match Group

The CEO of Match, which owns popular dating apps like Tinder and Hinge, announced in January that she was stepping down because of health reasons.

Ginsberg told employees at the OkCupid owner that she’s leaving the company after 14 years following a “personally trying” period that has included a recent surgery and a tornado slamming her Dallas home.

“While I expect to have a clean bill of health, short term I need to take care of myself and so will take some time off this year to do just that,” Ginsberg said at the time.

Ginsberg said she had a preventative double mastectomy a decade ago to address her high risk of breast cancer after her mother and aunt died of ovarian cancer. She had to have another operation at the beginning of the year “due to an FDA recall of the implants, because they have been linked to cancer.”

“It’s been a lot to handle,” she added.

Howard Mittman, Bleacher Report

Howard Mittman
Howard MittmanFilmMagic

Mittman was axed from the popular blog by the site’s owner — Lenny Daniels of Turner Sports.

Daniels broke the stunning news to colleagues in June, suggesting he’d been eyeing changes atop the popular-but-bawdy sports site.

“Over the last several months, I’ve given a lot of thought to how we can further grow the B/R business and set it up for long-term success,” Daniels said.

Rumors have swirled about why Mittman lost his job. One report said that the lack of top black executives at the site was creating problems.

“When you come into the second floor, you see a sea of faces representative of what you would expect to see. When you go up to the third floor, especially the sales side, it’s entirely white,” Digiday reported, quoting a current B/R employee. Another B/R employee said, “There’s a lack of diversity at the top, and they are the ones profiting the most directly off of black culture.”

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