Optimism is back in the boardroom

It’s been roughly 18 months since the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global pandemic, and KPMG returns with its annual, global CEO survey to gauge how leadership strategies and concerns have shifted during these demanding times. And if one word could summarize our report, it’s optimism — a remarkable and reassuring shift.

Key findings

The KPMG CEO Outlook series offers a unique lens on the ongoing implications of the Covid-19 pandemic and the prospects for economic recovery. Across the trajectory of the pandemic, we’ve connected regularly with the world’s business leaders, reporting on some of the insights through our pulse surveys in July/August 2020 and January/February 2021. The 2021 CEO Outlook, our major annual survey, draws on the perspectives for the future of 1,325 CEOs across 11 major markets. Key developments are focused on how today’s connected CEOs are plugged-in, people-first and purpose-led to grow their organizations and emerge stronger:

CEOs are optimistic, confident and expect aggressive growth through acquisitions and other inorganic methods. They continue to put an emphasis on leading with purpose and a focus on digitally transforming their organizations while upskilling an agile workforce in the new world of work. 

With increased stakeholder pressure to build back better, global organizations are supercharged to increase investment into environmental, social and governance (ESG) priorities and stay true to their purpose.

With people returning to places of work, and society increasingly looking to business leaders to lead a return to normal, CEOs are shying away from making wholesale changes to the future of work — but they recognize employee demand for continued flexibility.

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