Fortune/Deloitte CEO Survey

CEO survey responses reflect a hopeful outlook for 2021

When asked to describe 2021 in one word, 27% of CEOs in the latest Fortune/Deloitte CEO Survey wrote “hope” or “hopeful.” Other common words are “opportunity,” “optimism,” and “recovery.” There are a handful of naysayers who opt to describe 2021 in ominous terms like “uncertain” and “slog.” In contrast, more than half of CEOs describe 2020 with words that are decidedly negative. The most common word to describe 2020? “Challenging.”

Consistent with previous survey results, CEOs seem to perceive the challenges of 2020 receding into the past as they look to 2021 with hope. A majority of CEOs now say that they’ve in effect already recovered from the trials of the past year. Seven of 10 CEOs state that their revenues and employee level never declined, already recovered, or will recover to pre-crisis levels by June 2021.

CEOs are also steadfast in their opinions about the future of their workforce and organizations, when compared with results from the previous two surveys (fielded in June and October of 2020)—suggesting that they’ve had a vision of a new post-pandemic world in mind for some time now and are sticking to it rather than falling back on the idea that things might return to the way they once were.

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