Top 6 Highest Rated Retail CEOs

Joe Skorupa
Editor at Large
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By Joe Skorupa

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook is on the list of top CEOs. So is Larry Page of Google and Larry Ellison of Oracle. And joining them are six highly regarded retail CEOs. But some big names are absent. Find out where Amazon, Home Depot, Nordrstrom, Macy’s, Zappo’s and others rank on the top-50 CEO list. Hint: some of the star executives from these companies made the list and some didn’t.
CEOs’ management styles can be forceful and intimidating or skillfully inclusive. They can deploy top-down mandates or seek to inspire consensus. Either approach can work with or without earning a high degree of approval from employees, because the job of the CEO is not to win a popularity contest. It is to lead the company to a position of competitive strength and long-term financial success, and the only ones who get to vote on the CEO’s job performance are members of the board of directors.

But what if employees did get to vote? Which CEOs would come out on top? This question is answered by Glassdoor, the online jobs and career community, in its recently released report, “50 Highest Rated CEOs.”

In the report, Glassdoor aggregated employee-supplied approval ratings between February 25, 2012 and February 24, 2013. The ratings are based on surveys taken by employees, who indicate whether they approve or disapprove of the way their CEO is leading the company. More than half a million reviews were submitted to Glassdoor over the past 12 months. For the 2013 report “50 Highest Rated CEOs” all eligible companies had to have at least 100 approval ratings to be considered for the list.

The top-rated CEOs, with 99% approval ratings, are Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and the dual CEOs at SAP, Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe.

Interestingly, a large number of the top 50 CEOs is comprised of technology executives. In addition to Facebook and SAP at the top other IT companies with highly rated CEOs include: Cognizant (6), Google (11), Intel (21), Tata (25), Wipro (44), Oracle (46) and Dell (49).    

Top Retail CEOs

The top-rated retail CEOs on the list include a stellar group, but some well-known executives are absent, such as Terry Lundgren of Macy’s, Tony Hshieh of Zappo’s and Kip Tindell of The Container Store. Many retail insiders and experts view these three as being masters of the art of retail with a focus on creating strong corporate cultures.

For the record, some names on the list are not included in the profiles below, such as Howard Schultz of Starbucks (number 19 with an approval rating of 92%) and Apple CEO Tim Cook (number 18 with an approval rating of 93%). Starbucks is largely a fast-food chain as opposed to a classic retailer, and Apple stores, although very impressive, are just a small part of Cook’s overall responsibilities.

Here are the top retail CEOs in order of their ranking on the list:

Jeff Bezos, Amazon:
Coming in at 16 with a 93% approval rating is Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. Amazon employees cite a corporate culture that is challenging, innovative and customer-centric. Other top qualities are a collaborative teamwork approach and a great corporate campus that allows dogs. Cons include few perks and being unofficially on call 24/7.

Blake Nordstrom, Nordstrom:
Next on the list is Blake Nordstrom at 29 with a 90% approval rating. Top qualities at Nordstrom include good sales training, open management style, and an excellent culture of service. On the downside, associates cite misgivings about long hours and holiday/weekend scheduling, although they rave about the 10% sales commission.

Glenn Murphy, The Gap:
At 39 on the list is Glenn Murphy of the Gap with an 83% approval rating and a big year-over-year jump of 13 points. Top company characteristics include being diversity and a fair and fun work environment with a passion for fashion. Employee discounts are a huge plus and so is scheduling flexibility.

Frank Blake, The Home Depot:
Frank Blake is 40 on the list with an approval rating of 82%. Teamwork, camaraderie and profit sharing are strong company traits. Swing shifts plus early and late hours are cons. Advancement opportunities and exceptional benefits are frequently cited as areas of strength.

Sharon Turney, Victoria’s Secret:
Next on the list is Sharon Turney of Victoria’s Secret at 42 with an 82% approval rating. Victoria’s Secret gets kudos for being a dynamic, fast-moving company that is constantly re-inventing itself. Free and near-free sample products are cited as being highly appreciated.

Ed Crenshaw, Publix:
Last on the list is Ed Crenshaw of Publix at 48 with an 82% approval rating. Coming in at this level is no mean feat. Michael Dell is 49 and Jeffrey Immelt of GE is 50. Publix is lauded for four big reasons: promoting from within, semi-annual pay raises based on performance evaluation, profit sharing, and quarterly bonuses.

“While anyone can assume a position in leadership, not everyone garners their employees’ support for how they lead the company,” said Robert Hohman, Glassdoor CEO and co-founder. “The CEOs who are most successful in gaining employee approval are those who paint a clear vision of what the company is setting out to achieve and how it’s going to get there. To be recognized by your employees as a strong leader also comes as a result of having a solid company culture that helps employees foster the skills necessary to move business forward and meet the needs of customers.”

Glassdoor is a career community where members can find inside connections, see the latest job listings, and get access to proprietary user-generated content including company-specific salary reports, ratings and reviews, CEO approval ratings, interview questions and reviews, office photos, and more. For more info about the Glassdoor click here.

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