Reputation Institute Finds Acting Responsibly Can Make or Break a CEO

The Holmes Report
Holmes Report

The Reputation Institute has named the 10 most reputable CEOs in the world, all of whom stand out first and foremost for being ethical and responsible — the same factors that knocked last year’s number one corporate leader, Google's Sundar Pichai, far down the rungs.

According to the 2019 Global CEO RepTrak Study, the world’s most well-respected CEOs in alphabetical order are: Shell’s Ben van Beurden, Lego’s Niels B. Christiansen, Dell’s Michael Dell, Danone’s Emmanuel Faber, The Estée Lauder Companies’ Fabrizio Freda, Nintendo’s Shuntaro Furukawa, ING Group’s Ralph Hamers, Mary Kay’s David Holl, Hilton Worldwide’s Christopher J. Nassetta and Lufthansa’s Carsten Spohr. Freda,

Furukawa and Hamers are the only CEOs who also ranked in the top 10 in last year’s inaugural study. The differences in scores among members of the group were so minimal that they were not ranked in numerical order, like they were in 2018, when Pichai ranked first (he plummeted to 88th this year).

Like last year, though, the world’s most reputable CEOs earned their spot among the top 10 largely due to responsible they are on the job, particularly when it comes to being fair and treating their employees well, said Reputation Institute CEO Kylie Wright-Ford. Shell’s van Beurden (pictured), for instance, is notable for working to transform the company into a 21st energy business, while addressing issues like climate change.

“This is directly related to how CEOs act,” Wright-Ford said. “They are judged on ethics not profit. Governance is most important to get right, and financial performance is least important for CEOs.”

CEOs who keep high-profiles are viewed slightly more favorably than those who don’t. The longer they are in the job, the better. 


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