Half a century ago, the ratio of CEO-to-worker pay was around 20-to-1, according to the Economic Policy Institute. In 2013, it was 295.9-to-1. CEO compensation has increased by 937 percent just over the last three decades (since 1978). The rise compares with a dismal 10.2 percent hike for the average U.S. worker over the same period, putting into stark contrast the relative fortunes of the superrich and everyday employees in an increasingly economically divided America.
Compensation issues are again dominating annual meeting season. Have shareholders begun to assert their rights more aggressively, or have companies learned nothing from years of dialogue?
An explosive start to this year’s proxy season has many observers calling 2016 the second Shareholder Spring. Significant opposition to compensation at companies such as BP, Citigroup, Anglo American and Smith & Nephew has caused embarrassment and surprise, while more investors seem willing not only to oppose management in key votes, but to engage in very public debates on the subject.