What it pays to be at the top a look at the salaries of local ceos – the blade gas 02


The requirement for public firms to disclose the gap between what they pay their CEOs and what they pay workers came out of legislation passed in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Like the say-on-pay advisory votes, the measure was, in part, meant to add more accountability in the face of rising income inequality.

“It’s not just about being disgusted by someone making a lot of money, it’s the other effects of that obscene level of pay that really affect everybody,” Ms. Anderson said. “In general, we’re in a situation where we’ve had wage stagnation in this country. We haven’t had a raise in the minimum wage in almost 10 years. I think we, in general, also need to focus on lifting up the bottom.”

“We already knew that CEO pay was high, we already knew there was going to be a big gap between most companies and their median worker,” said Dan Marcec, director of content at Equilar, an executive data firm. “The thing we’re learning is a little bit more about these companies’ employee bases and what comprises those.”

Though there’s a standard formula for reporting executive compensation, the SEC gives companies some leeway into how they calculate the median employee compensation. Even so, the filings offer a window — albeit an imperfect one — into the work force at some of the country’s largest and most powerful companies.

Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer and top company on last year’s Fortune 500 list, reported its median employee made $19,177 last year, while the company’s CEO was paid $22.8 million. On the flip side of that, Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. said its median employee was paid $197,274 while CEO Larry Page drew a salary of just $1.

Marathon’s 935-to-1 ratio was also skewed by its reliance on part-time workers at its Speedway gas stations. The company said about 29 percent of its 44,000 employees were part-time retail employees. Marathon reported that another 44 percent of its work force were full-time employees at Speedway. Those lower-paid workers dragged down the company’s reported median income to $21,304.

“As a truly global company, approximately 71 percent of Libbey employees are located outside the U.S.,” the company said in a statement to The Blade. “The majority of our employees are paid hourly and covered by collective bargaining agreements, and most are full-time employees. In addition, we provide all of our employees with wages and benefits that comply with local and national laws, or, if higher, prevailing local industry practices, of the respective jurisdictions in which our employees work.”

Compare that to the Toledo-based real estate investment trust Welltower Inc., which noted its median employee was paid nearly $91,000. That was the highest employee median among the 12 companies The Blade reviewed, and put Welltower among the lower pay gaps, in spite of its CEO being the third most highly compensated in the region.

There certainly are outliers with gaudy-looking differences. Mindy Grossman, the CEO at Weight Watchers International, was paid 5,908 times that of the company’s median employee — likely the biggest gap reported. The company noted that gap was so large primary on account of several one-time bonuses worth $26.3 million, and the fact that the majority of its employees were part-time. In its filing with the SEC, Weight Watchers noted its median employee worked 10.7 hours per week.

“I think it’s good information in terms of comparing what’s being paid in various areas for various industries. It’s new information that we didn’t have. That’s good, in itself, for transparency, but to get to an overarching ‘there’s something wrong here, there’s something that needs fixing,’ we’re not seeing it,” said Aaron Pedowitz, an executive compensation and benefits consultant at Mercer.

While there was hope from some activist shareholders and other proponents of the rule that the disclosures might somehow shame corporate boards into addressing the pay disparity, most experts don’t see that happening. Even with a big corporate tax cut, there’s been little evidence that public companies have been doling out significant across-the-board raises for employees.

“It’s just not happening. The ratio’s going to get wider,” said Al Candrilli, a partner at Organizational Consulting Group in Avon, Ohio. “In reality, we haven’t seen any shareholder revolts, we haven’t seen any major public protests. Basically, what we’ve seen are articles in newspapers and magazines.”