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Diversity & Inclusion

Top CEOs 2021: Celebrating Diverse Leaders

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

June 15, 2021

The world has changed in many ways over the past year. Beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been heightened awareness, outrage, and reckoning around racial/ethnic equity in the United States and many meaningful conversations about what comes next. People have asked one another around boardrooms, dinner tables and everywhere in between have focused on how to best reduce systemic inequities, tackle bias and ensure America is a place where everyone can thrive both personally and professionally.

Glassdoor is committed to bringing more equity to workplaces everywhere by prioritizing transparency. By doing so, we hope to help create a more equitable society as well.

As Glassdoor recognizes the Top CEOs in 2021, it’s clear there is more progress to be made in terms of diversity in the C-suite. 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. (Please read this post celebrating the Top Women CEOs for 2021.)

For perspective, data from the University of California at Santa Cruz found that while Black Americans account for over 13% of the U.S. population (according to the latest U.S. Census figures), only 4 CEOs in the Fortune 500 — less than 1% — are Black. It’s a similar trend for other groups as well. While 6% of the U.S. population is Asian, only 2.4% of CEOs are East or South Asian. Similarly, 3.4% of Fortune 500 leaders are Latinx despite making up 18.5% of the overall population. 

Exceptional leadership does not, and should not, look a certain way. Glassdoor is therefore highlighting the unique stories of several CEOs on the U.S. large list from diverse backgrounds who are already blazing trails and inspiring the next generation of great leaders.

Read on to learn more about a selection of dynamic leaders from underrepresented groups who are among our Top 100 CEOs for 2021, and join us in celebrating them!

Editorial Note: In selecting Top CEOs to highlight from underrepresented groups for this spotlight piece, Glassdoor conducted external research, relying on multiple sources to help understand each leader’s race/ethnicity and/or origin and background. We also proactively reached out to CEOs and/or their teams to ensure we included as many relevant honorees as possible. If you believe a winner among the Top 100 CEOs in 2021 should be reflected here, please contact awards@glassdoor.com.

Shantanu Narayen, Adobe

Top CEOs 2021 Ranking: #2

CEO Approval Rating: 99%

Shantanu Narayen has been at the helm of Adobe as its CEO since 2007. The nautical analogy is particularly relevant here--Mr. Narayen once represented India in a sailing regatta. He serves as an independent director on Pfizer's board of directors and is also a board member for KKR and a member of the advisory board at the UC Berkeley, Haas Business School. Mr. Narayen was born and raised in India before immigrating to the United States to pursue a Master’s degree. 

Satya Nadella, Microsoft 

Top CEOs 2021 Ranking: #6

CEO Approval Rating: 97%

As one of the most well-known CEOs on this year’s list, Satya Nadella is no stranger to the spotlight. Mr. Nadella grew up in India and immigrated to the United States to continue his education at the University of Wisconsin and University of Chicago before starting his career at Sun Microsystems and later working his way up through the ranks at Microsoft. In addition to his wide reaching responsibilities at Microsoft, Mr. Nadella is a part owner of Seattle’s Major League Soccer team, Seattle Sounders FC.

Horacio Rozanski, Booz Allen Hamilton 

Top CEOs 2021 Ranking: #10

CEO Approval Rating: 97%

Born and raised in Argentina, Horacio Rozanski began his career at Booz Allen as an intern in Buenos Aires 30 years ago. Since becoming CEO, he has committed to advancing diversity and inclusion at the firm. Under his leadership, Booz Allen went from zero to five women on its 12-person board, and today, eight of the company’s nine top leaders are women or people of color, including Mr. Rozanski himself. Mr. Rozanski is chairman of the board of directors for Children’s National Medical Center and a member of the board of directors at Marriott International and CARE. He received the Horatio Alger Award in 2020.

Aneel Bhusri, Workday

Top CEOs 2021 Ranking: #21

CEO Approval Rating: 96%

Indian American Aneel Bhusri is co-founder, co-CEO and chairman of the board of directors at Workday. Mr. Bhusri is an advisory partner at Greylock, a member of the board of trustees at Stanford University and a former board member for Intel. He also serves on the board of directors of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Mr. Bhusri has been on the Forbes Midas List six times since 2008. In 2018, he joined the Giving Pledge, a commitment by the world's wealthiest people to dedicate most of their wealth to philanthropy. He recently donated $1 million to a San Francisco coronavirus relief fund.

Vas Narasimhan, Novartis

Top CEOs 2021 Ranking: #23

CEO Approval Rating: 96%

Indian businessman Vas Narasimhan has spent his life dedicated to public health, having pursued degrees in medicine, worked to combat disease in India and Africa and through his work at the World Health Organization. After a stint at McKinsey, Mr. Narasimhan joined Novartis in 2005 where he has held various roles: head of U.S. vaccines, head of the company’s Sandoz biopharmaceuticals development unit, head of global drug development and chief medical officer. He became CEO in 2018. Mr. Narasimhan is dedicated to self-improvement, regularly working with an executive coach, using meditation apps, exercising daily and following a strict vegetarian diet. 

Manny Maceda, Bain & Company

Top CEOs 2021 Ranking: #27

CEO Approval Rating: 96%

Filipino American businessman Manny Maceda is widely recognized as one of the most influential Asian business leaders in the U.S., honored with a 2021 Gold House award. Under Mr. Maceda’s leadership, Bain is a founding partner of The Asian American Foundation (TAAF), a recently-launched organization aimed at fostering racial inclusion, combatting discrimination, funding anti-hate projects, investing in data and research and celebrating AAPI contributions. Mr. Maceda, worldwide managing partner of Bain, is the first Asian leader in Bain's history. He was born in the U.S. and raised in the Philippines. 

Jensen Huang, NVIDIA

Top CEOs 2021 Ranking: #31

CEO Approval Rating: 95%

Jensen Huang was born in Taiwan and lived in Thailand as a child, but his family sent him to the U.S as civil unrest grew. He co-founded NVIDIA, and serves as its president, CEO and board member. NVIDIA helped build the gaming market into the largest entertainment sector in the world today. Under Mr. Huang’s leadership, NVIDIA became a pioneer in computer gaming chips before expanding to design chips for data centers and autonomous cars. Mr. Huang is a recipient of the IEEE Founder’s Medal, the Dr. Morris Chang Exemplary Leadership Award and honorary doctorate degrees from Taiwan’s National Chiao Tung University and Oregon State University. In 2019, Harvard Business Review ranked him No. 1 on its list of the world’s 100 best-performing CEOs. In 2017, he was named Fortune’s Businessperson of the Year. 

Kenneth C. Frazier, Merck

Top CEOs 2021 Ranking: #42

CEO Approval Rating: 94%

Kenneth C. Frazier is one of the few Black corporate CEOs in America, serving as CEO and chairman of the board of Merck since 2011. ​He joined the company in 1992 and was previously general counsel and president. Mr. Frazier sits on the boards of PhRMA, Weill Cornell Medicine and Exxon Mobil Corporation. He is co-founder and co-chair of OneTen, a coalition of leading organizations committed to upskilling, hiring and promoting one million Black Americans into family-sustaining jobs. As a champion of social justice and economic inclusion, Mr. Frazier is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. In 2018, he was named one the World’s Greatest Leaders by Fortune Magazine. In 2019, he became the first recipient of the Forbes Lifetime Achievement Award for Healthcare. Mr. Fraizer has called for business leaders to be a “unifying force” to help solve racial inequalities by creating new opportunities and jobs. 

Ali Ghodsi, Databricks

Top CEOs 2021 Ranking: #50

CEO Approval Rating: 94%

Ali Ghodsi was born in the middle of Iran’s revolution. At age 5, his family was given 24 hours to flee the country and they left for Sweden. The Swedish Iranian computer scientist and entrepreneur is co-founder and CEO of data software startup Databricks. Valued at $28 billion in early 2021, Databricks is backed by industry powerhouses including Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Salesforce. Mr. Ghodsi describes Databricks as a "data lake house" that helps companies like Comcast, Credit Suisse and T-Mobile securely store and utilize their data. Mr. Ghodsi serves as an adjunct professor at UC Berkeley and is on the board at UC Berkeley’s RiseLab. 

Kevin Lobo, Stryker

Top CEOs 2021 Ranking: #54

CEO Approval Rating: 94%

Kevin A. Lobo is the CEO and chair of the board of Stryker. Under Mr. Lobo’s leadership, Stryker supplies more than 75 countries with medical devices. Previously the president of Johnson & Johnson Ethicon Endo Surgery, Mr. Lobo now serves on the board of directors for the Parker Hannifin Corporation and the U.S.-India Business Council in addition to his roles at Stryker. He speaks fluent French as a result of his upbringing in Montreal.

Sean Yalamanchi, Infovision Inc.

Top CEOs 2021 Ranking: #55

CEO Approval Rating: 93%

Sean Yalamanchi is the co-founder, president and a board member of Infovision. Mr. Yalamanchi is passionate about entrepreneurship and philanthropy. As the head of Infovision, Mr. Yalamanchi is active in the local Dallas tech community and encourages his team to actively recruit graduates from the University of Texas at Dallas, where he regularly leads research with their academic teams.

Top CEOs 2021 Ranking: #63

CEO Approval Rating: 93%

Born in China, billionaire Eric Yuan is the founder of Zoom, a video communications tool that went public in 2019 and soared in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under Mr. Yuan’s direction, Zoom was one of the highest-performing tech IPOs of 2019. He has been named one of the Most Powerful People in Enterprise Tech by Business Insider. In 2019, he was added to the Bloomberg 50 as a leader who changed global business. Mr. Yuan is named as an inventor on 11 issued and 20 pending patents.

Jay Chaudhry, Zscaler

Top CEOs 2021 Ranking: #71

CEO Approval Rating: 92%

Indian American entrepreneur and businessman Jay Chaudhry was born in the Indian Himalayas where his remote village did not have electricity or running water. Today, he’s CEO of Zscaler, a cybersecurity firm that he founded in 2008 to protect customers from cyberattacks and data loss in remote environments like the cloud. Before Zscaler, Mr. Chaudhry founded four other tech companies that were all acquired: SecureIT, CoreHarbor, CipherTrust and AirDefense. Mr. Chaudhry has been honored as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year (Southeast USA), an Information Week Innovator & Influencer, an SC Magazine Market Entrepreneur and has been named to the Goldman Sachs 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs.

Sundar Pichai, Google

Top CEOs 2021 Ranking: #90

CEO Approval Rating: 90%Sundar Pichai was born into humble beginnings in Chennai, India, where he didn't have a computer, telephone or family car and slept on the living room floor. He’s now the CEO of Alphabet Inc. and its subsidiary Google, which he joined in 2004. Under his leadership, Google has focused on developing products and services powered by the latest advances in AI, invested in new opportunities such as Google Cloud and has innovated around advanced technologies, including machine learning and quantum computing. Mr. Pichai is helping India battle the coronavirus crisis by pledging $18 million in aid from Google and its employees to provide critical supplies like oxygen and testing equipment, as well as technical expertise and other resources.

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