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The KPMG 2021 U.S. CEO Outlook draws on the perspectives for the future of 400 U.S. CEOs as they look to play a central part in rebuilding the economy and society. We’ve connected regularly with CEOs throughout the pandemic. As they manage the impact of COVID-19, they’re optimistic about the economic recovery and continue to put an emphasis on leading with purpose.

This year’s survey finds CEOs focused on being plugged-in, people-first and purpose-led to grow their organizations.


Paul Knopp

With this year’s CEO Outlook, we set out to explore how CEOs are positioning their organizations for the post-pandemic future. Our survey of more than 1,300 CEOs from large, global companies, including 400 in the United States, shows that U.S. CEOs remain confident in the growth prospects of the domestic economy and their businesses as confidence in global economic growth is rising.

We found U.S. CEOs are striking the delicate balance of driving a growth strategy inclusive of M&A that is aligned with their digital acceleration plans and environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives while still leading their organizations through ongoing uncertainty. These intersecting risks and opportunities are providing CEOs the chance to uniquely lead and build trust with their key stakeholders, especially their employees.

Mindful of the risks associated with growth, CEOs are continuing to safeguard against major threats. They’re prioritizing bolstering cybersecurity and supply chain resiliency, while searching for industrywide solutions and collaboration to help minimize these increasing risks. Tax is also top of mind for CEOs, with another round of U.S. tax reforms and the proposed global minimum tax regime on the horizon.

As we found in the research, U.S. CEOs aren’t aiming to just grow their businesses but to also build a better society. To this end, a majority of CEOs are leaning into their corporate purpose and values to drive action on their ESG initiatives, recognizing both heightened expectations from stakeholders and new opportunities to gain competitive advantage. Accountability around such initiatives will become an even bigger focus of CEOs, as stakeholders expect to know where companies are on their ESG journeys.

The future of work is also top of mind for U.S. CEOs. They recognize the tremendous effort of their workforces to continue to remain productive over the last 18 months and admit that the accelerated pace of digital transformation will not be sustainable without first addressing employee burnout. The top operational priority is their employee value proposition and they are focused on their employees’ mental health and well-being and making further inroads in creating an inclusive and diverse working environment.

In this report, we cover these key findings in more detail and highlight the unique ways U.S. CEOs are positioning their companies for post-pandemic growth.


Paul Knopp
Chair & CEO
KPMG U.S.