These are the top CEOs, according to employee reviews

Boston Consulting Group's Rich Lesser was named top CEO of 2021

The chief executives behind some of the country's biggest corporations, from Boston Consulting Group and Southwest Airlines to Microsoft, have won over their employers amid a tumultuous year filled with racial, socioeconomic and health care issues. 

On Tuesday, Glassdoor released its 8th Employees’ Choice Awards, honoring the top chief executives in 2021. The coveted list is all based on employee feedback regarding the chief executive's ability to lead the company over the past year as well as the overall work environment. 

The tech industry overtook the competition. About 29 spots were held by the CEOs of tech companies. In fact, Apple's Tim Cook, who received a 95% approval rating from staff, has been honored for the eighth straight year. However, this also marks the first year Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg didn't even rank in the top 100 since Glassdoor started compiling the list in 2013.  


About 19 CEOs, however, were from the finance industry and another eight came from the manufacturing industry.  

The individual sitting at the helm of the list is Boston Consulting Group's Rich Lesser, who attained a 99% approval rating from staff. Comparatively, the average CEO approval rating on Glassdoor is 73%. 

Rich Lesser, president and CEO of Boston Consulting Group, speaks during 2015 World Economic Forum (Fu Tian/CNSPHOTO/Visual China Group via Getty Images) ( )

"Through a challenging year, it’s inspiring to see Top CEOs who, according to their employees, adapted to change, redefined visions and led with transparency while putting the health and safety of employees first," said Glassdoor CEO Christian Sutherland-Wong, 

Lesser was commended for his ability to create an "ethical organization" with "transparent communication" at every level, according to employee reviews. 

"Ethical organization that lives by its core values. Transparent leadership, operations, and communications. Opportunities to grow and develop," an Atlanta-based Boston Consulting Group manager said.

Aside from having "transparent communication," a Boston-based Boston Consulting Group legal employee said the company also has "flexible working arrangements, outstanding and accepting culture, great benefits." 


Glassdoor's ranking included the top 100 CEOs of companies with 1,000 or more employees and the top 50 CEOs of small and medium companies.

The top 10 CEOs of the largest companies included Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Adobe’s Shantanu Narayen and Delta Air Lines' Ed Bastian. 

However, in analyzing the top CEOs, Glassdoor recognized there was a lack of diversity in the C-suite. For instance, only four CEOs in the Fortune 500 are Black, only 2.4% of CEOs are East Asian or South Asian and only 3.4% are Latinx, according to Glassdoor. 

"The lack of CEOs on our list from underrepresented groups demonstrates a wider problem across corporate America: leadership demographics in the C-suite still do not come close to reflecting the population at large," Glassdoor said. 

Knowing this, Glassdoor highlighted certain CEOs, such as Nadella, who do come from diverse backgrounds and are "already blazing trails and inspiring the next generation of great leaders." 

Here are the top 10 U.S. CEOs in 2021 or companies with at least 1,000 employees: 

1. Boston Consulting Group’s Rich Lesser (99% approval)

2. Adobe’s Shantanu Narayen (99% approval)

3. MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Peter Pisters (99% approval)

4. Southwest Airlines’ Gary C. Kelly (98% approval)

5. Visa Inc.’s Alfred F. Kelly Jr. (97% approval)

6. Microsoft’s Satya Nadella (97% approval)

7. H E B’s Charles C. Butt (97% approval)

8. Delta Air Lines' Ed Bastian (97% approval)

9. Red Hat’s Paul Cormier (97% approval)

10. Booz Allen Hamilton’s Horacio D. Rozanski (97% approval)