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Glassdoor Q3 CEO Watch List Report: Highest and Lowest CEO Approval Ratings Reveal Employee Opinions May be Influenced by Proximity to CEO

The Glassdoor quarterly report* on CEO performance is out, and it seems the down economy and internal actions may have impacted the popularity of CEOs across the board. More than 60% of CEOs on both the highest and lowest rated lists — ranking 25 CEOs each — recorded a decline in overall approval ratings since the beginning of July while less than 25% moved up. New analysis this quarter reveals that, at many companies, opinions of the CEOs vary widely depending on whether an employee works close to the power center in the corporate headquarters or further removed from the CEO in a satellite office.

In fact, 68% of CEOs on both the highest and lowest rated lists have higher approval ratings from employees in headquarters than employees working in non-HQ offices. A perfect example of this phenomenon is Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, who happens to be one of the highest rated CEOs on Glassdoor.  While his score has slid from 91% approval in Q2 to 76% in Q3, most of the decrease has to do with an influx of negative reviews from Netflix operations in Oregon – as of early October, Hastings had a 92% approval rating among headquarter employees and 55% approval rating aggregated from employees in other locations.

Below highlights some of the most noted variances among those on the highest and lowest rated CEOs:

The CEO Watch List

Since we began reporting CEO approval ratings last year, six CEOs on the “Watch List” have left the building.  While no CEOs have been unseated since the Q1 report there has been some movement. Frost & Sullivan CEO Krishna Srinivasan has moved onto the list as the least favored CEO with a 4% approval and 84% disapproval rating; Srinivasan’s approval rating is up just one percentage point from early July. Seven CEOs have been on this list since December 2008: Office Depot’s Steve Odland (7% approval, 80% disapproval);  Rain Bird’s Anthony LaFetra (11% approval, 72% disapproval);  CSAA Inter-Insurance Bureau’s James Pouliot (13% approval, 72% disapproval);  Affiliated Computer Services ‘s Lynn Blodgett (17% approval, 57% disapproval);  Amgen’s Kevin Sharer (18% approval, 54% disapproval);  eBay’s John Donahoe (20% approval, 53% disapproval);  and, Sun Microsystems’ Jonathan Schwartz (21% approval, 57% disapproval).

Of these, there are some notable differences among employees by location. For example, Affiliated Computer Services Lynn Blodgett, who has 17% approval rating overall has a 36% approval rating from employees in the headquarter office, but just 10% approval rating outside HQ. However, Corporate Executive Board CEO Thomas Monahan receives only half as much support in his HQ office than in remote locations. In the HQ office located in Arlington, VA, Monahan garners an 18% approval rating whereas elsewhere he garners a 36% approval rating.

CEO Watch List

Highest Rated CEOs

Four out of the top five CEOs reported in Q2 report remain among the top five highest rated CEOs this quarter, this includes: General Mills’ Ken Powell (96% approval, 3% disapproval), Northwestern Mutual’s Edward Zore (90% approval, 3% disapproval), Apple’s Steve Jobs (90% approval, 4% disapproval) and Google’s Eric Schmidt (87% approval, 4% disapproval).  Only General Mills CEO Ken Powell has been among the top five highest rated CEOs for three consecutive quarters.  And, although Google CEO Eric Schmidt holds steady with an 87% approval rating, we did observe that his ratings can quickly fluctuate between our quarterly reports as we noted when we compared 30-day trailing averages with Yahoo’s Carol Bartz.

It’s also worth noting that only three CEOs among the highest rated list had an uptick in their approval ratings this quarter compared to last; These CEOs each achieved a one percentage point improvement this quarter: Chevron’s Dave O’Reilly (79% approval, 11% disapproval), Marriott’s Bill Marriott Jr. (75% approval, 15% disapproval) and Costco’s Jim Sinegal (74% approval, 12% disapproval).

As we mentioned earlier Netflix caught our attention for the notable variances in approval rating by office location, however they were not alone. For example, FactSet’s Phillip Hadley has a 93% approval rating from employees in the headquarter office located in Norwalk, CT and a combined 76% approval rating from employees working in  non-headquarter locations. Also Disney’s HQ employees have higher opinions of CEO Bob Iger with 78% approval rating compared to the 65% approval from employees working outside of the Burbank headquarters. On the flip side, CEO Marc Benioff receives a 100% approval rating from employees working outside of the San Francisco HQ and 70% from those who sit in the power center.

Also of note is that NIKE CEO Mark G. Parker seems to be on a steady downward slope in terms of his approval ratings. As reported in the end of March, he held a 90% approval rating that fell to 85% in July, and as of October 1, it’s 79%.

Highest Rated CEOs

REMINDER:  In addition to CEO approval ratings, Glassdoor users can also search company ratings and reviews, salaries, and even job interview reviews by location by selection the city in the drop down menu on the company landing page.  If you have not yet reviewed or rated your company and CEO (past employers w/in three years also ok), isn’t it about time?  Information you leave can help others.

For more information on past updates to the CEO watch list and highest rated CEOs, click on any of the report links below:

*This report looks at the 25 highest and lowest rated CEOs according to employees.  Each CEO on the report has been reviewed by at least 50 employees.