Isn’t it interesting that the ethics of corporate pay shift 180 degrees as you take the elevator from the work floor to the executive suites? Interesting… and infuriating.
Down below, corporate morality dictates that it’s in the best interest of shareholders to hold costs down by paying as little as possible to employees who produce a company’s products and services. At the tippy-top of the hierarchy, however, corporate morality does a complete flip-flop, decreeing that shareholder interests are best served by paying top dollar to executive employees, in order to attract “top talent.” And these moral relativists wonder why corporate morale stinks these days.
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For a clue, they might check the latest inequality numbers. The annual paycheck for a CEO of a typical large corporation topped $9.7 million last year, meaning they have increased their haul by more than 36 percent since the Great Recession ended in 2009. Meanwhile, in the same three years, median pay for all employees working below the top floor didn’t even keep up with inflation.
And, please, spare us any more fairy tales of how this crop of corporate chieftains represents America’s top talent. These so-called “job creators” aren’t; their self-proclaimed, Ayn-Randian prowess as society’s heroic “achievers” has been turned into a sad joke by the constant exposés of their corruption and narcissism; and they’ve proven more adept at jacking up their platinum paychecks than in improving profits for shareholders or in projecting a positive public image for the corporation. If these guys (and 97 percent of them are guys) were baseball players, they’d be stuck on single-A, bush-league teams.
It’s time to reverse the perverse ethic of corporate pay – CEOs should get as little a possible, and top employees should be rewarded with top pay.
“Median CEO pay hits $9.7 million in ’12,” Austin American Statesman, May 24, 2013.
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