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As part of the 2021 HR@Moore Survey of Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) we sought to identify how the COVID pandemic impacted CEO Succession Processes, Board member relationships, and aspects of the Executive Leadership Team (ELT). We compared our results on the same measures from 2019 (pre-pandemic/racial justice crises), 2020 (midst of the pandemic/racial justice crises) and 2021 (post crises). The results from both direct questions about the impact of COVID on CEO succession and measures of the effectiveness of the processes over time suggest that the pandemic had little effect on CEO succession processes, other than causing firms to expand their view of the competencies that make for effective leaders. Regarding group cohesiveness, the results showed that the crises brought boards together to exhibit more cohesiveness and this cohesiveness has persisted. ELTs, on the other hand, saw a decline in cohesiveness during the year of the crises, but this rebounded to pre-crisis levels the following year. Finally, while most organizations committed to building more diversity in their organizations in response to the racial justice protests, only minor progress can be seen among most organizations as minority representation among ELTs only increased to 19% in 2021 from 17% in 2019. The year 2020 saw a series of crises that rocked the business world. In mid-March the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that COVID-19 was a global pandemic. A few months later, the killing of George Floyd sparked a series of social justice protests aimed at racial inequities across the globe. Boards, CEOs and members of the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) had to navigate these profound and lasting crises. The current report examines how these crises impacted organizations’ CEO succession processes, the way that boards work together, the way ELTs work together, and the diversity of ELTs. We take this on through both examining specific questions that were part of the 2021 survey that asked respondents about the ways in which the pandemic impacted their CEO succession processes, and by comparing to conditions pre- and post-the onset of the pandemic. In addition, because the HR@Moore Survey of Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) has been conducted over multiple years and we have assessed certain facets of the board and ELT, we are able to compare the 2019 (pre-pandemic), 2020 (mid-pandemic) and 2021 (latepandemic) results to capture changes in these aspects.

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© 2021, University of South Carolina

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