Re "Shining a light on CEO salaries," Column, Oct. 20
We need a word stronger than "obscene" for this disparity in pay between chief executives and rank-and-file employees.
In the late 1990s, a company I worked for researched the makeup of corporate boards for Fortune 100 companies. We found great nepotism between companies. Many CEOs served as board members of other Fortune 100 companies.
Yes, they were on the board to advise, but at the same time it is self-serving for them to vote on CEO compensation. Inflating compensation indirectly influences the compensation of all CEOs — in other words, they were in effect voting to raise their own pay. Perhaps they should recuse themselves from such votes.
Incidentally, something else we determined was that typically there was only one female and one person of color on a board, and typically they were either an attorney or a college professor.
I was happily surprised to learn that the federal rule on CEO compensation is only about disclosure, not imposing an actual ratio-based cap on pay. The latter would not have surprised me, and I suspect it is not far away, but as an unabashed capitalist, I agree that the disclosure rule is a good thing.
In the 1980s, when executive pay really began to grow exponentially, I contended that GOP leaders should use the opportunity to urge executives to share the wealth and truly lift all boats for the country's (and ultimately their own) larger and longer-term economic good.
I reasoned that eventually they would be forced to share the wealth if they did not address it themselves. The proposed disclosure rule is a step in both directions, and corporate executives should embrace the disclosure before the other shoe — a real compensation cap — actually drops.
Jeffrey C. Briggs
Michael Hiltzik's article is highly informative and, I am sure, gets many people's dander up. But he leaves out compelling data from other countries whose successful economies and education systems we often compare to our own.
He cites the average CEO-to-worker pay ratio in America as about 350 to 1. According to the AFL-CIO, Japan's ratio is 67 to 1, Germany's is 147 to 1 and Denmark's is 48 to 1.