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The Present

Glassdoor lists the highest-rated CEOs during COVID

If you want flexibility, transparency, and decent health policies, it seems like working in tech pays off.

Credit: Peshkova/Shutterstock

Key Takeaways
  • The website Glassdoor has released their rankings of the top CEOs and companies to work for during the pandemic.
  • The rankings were based on a study of reviews placed on their website by employees which mentioned COVID or CEO performance.
  • The study isn’t quite definitive, but offers an insight into what employees want during times of crisis.

The last time humanity faced an airborne pandemic was during the 2009 swine flu outbreak. It was a relatively mild one; it had a low death rate and reproduction number just above that of the seasonal flu. To find a globe-spanning, airborne pandemic of a more intense nature, one has to look back to the Hong Kong Flu of 1968.

With so much time between today and that pandemic, it is little wonder that some people outside the health care field were unprepared to deal with COVID-19. Despite this, many serious attempts were made by institutions, both public and private, to make it possible to remain safe while also still working and living with some degree of normalcy. The results have been mixed.

In an attempt to gauge how different companies did, the employer review website Glassdoor analyzed reviews of large companies’ leadership during the pandemic. Their list of the top 25 employers in the United States and the top 10 in the United Kingdom offers a glimpse at what employees wanted from corporate leadership during the crisis, and who managed to provide it.

The survey considered recently submitted reviews about working for large companies that also included assessments of their leadership. Only reviews left between March 1 and July 31 were considered, with particular attention paid to high-quality reviews that focused on leadership’s actions during the pandemic. Using these reviews, a scoring system was created to rank the companies and order them.

A quick review of the top companies shows about a third of them are in tech, with representatives from the world of finance, health care, and insurance also making appearances. Among the top-scoring companies was Zoom Communications and its CEO Eric Yuan, the company behind the video calling application that many people have recently turned to. The highest scoring company was Mercury Systems, an aerospace and defense technology company, and its CEO Mark Aslett.

The top ten:

  1. Mark Aslett — Mercury Systems
  2. G. Brint Ryan — Ryan, LLC
  3. Michael Weinstein — AIDS Healthcare Foundation
  4. Eric S. Yuan — Zoom Video Communications
  5. Stanley Middleman — Freedom Mortgage
  6. Aaron Levie —Box
  7. Corey Schiller & Asher Raphael — Power Home Remodeling
  8. Ben Salzmann — Acuity Insurance
  9. Jim Kavanaugh — World Wide Technology
  10. Michael Schall — Essex Property Trust

Few, if any, of the CEOs on the list are well known to the casual reader. The most famous is undoubtedly Mark Zuckerberg, who came in eighth on the list of UK employers. Only one woman made the list at all (BrightStar Care’s Shelley Sun at number 17), perhaps reflecting the low percentage of large companies helmed by women. Likewise, only a handful of non-white men were to be found either, likely for similar reasons.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Glassdoor’s Chief Economist Andrew Chamberlain explained that the reviews suggest that many of the top-rated companies shared “clear and transparent communication with employees about what is going on during a pandemic. Second, providing flexibility: work from home, giving workers the tools they need to keep doing their jobs. And third, polices that support health and safety of employees first.”

A glance at the reviews used to compile the study supports this view, with many explicitly praising commitments to transparency and flexibility.

This survey considered only companies with more than 1,000 employees at the end of the review period, leaving out many excellently run but smaller operations. Of these larger enterprises, only those with more than 50 upper management (25 for firms based in the UK) were analyzed. Reviews made by interns were not counted towards this minimum. Companies that performed well, but with employees who didn’t feel the need to write reviews of their employer on the internet, were left out of the running.

Despite these limitations, the study does offer an insight into what employees wanted from corporate leadership during the pandemic and who could provide it. Companies hoping to do better during the next public health crisis would do well to consider the choices made by these executives. Those looking for greener pastures might also consider applying to work at these places.

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