January 27, 2012
Should CEO Pay Be Set In Reference To Pay Given To The Firm's Other Executives?
Posted by David Zaring

Broc Romanek thinks yes, so we'll outsource to him:

We've told the story about how American capitalist J.P. Morgan is reputed to have had a rule that he would not invest in a company whose CEO was paid more than 50% above the executives at the next level. He reasoned that, if the CEO was paid more, he wouldn't have a team but only courtiers. Internal pay is a primary factor when a company determines how to pay its workforce - why shouldn't that principle apply to how CEOs get paid?

It's shocking to me how few companies employ internal pay equity today. It's use by DuPont, Whole Foods and a handful of others is no secret. And Dodd-Frank's mandate for disclosure is well known. Shouldn't boards demand to see what those ratios look like ahead of the mandated disclosure? And even more important, as noted above, shouldn't boards demand to see those ratios to protect themselves from liability given the known bad data in the peer group surveys they get year after year? Of course, advisors should be willingly recommending the use of this alternative since it's their job to protect the board. Sadly, most advisors blindly adhere to the status quo as too often happens.

I just can't see what is wrong with putting together internal pay numbers for a board to consider. Where is the evil here? I suppose the downside is it likely will reveal how badly the board has been doing its job setting CEO pay levels over the past 20 years when historical numbers are crunched.

Interesting, as always.


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