S&P Global – Why Voluntary CEO Pay Cuts, While Largely Symbolic, Matter in ESG Context

June 3, 2022

By Esther Whieldon

CEOs and management teams at dozens of companies around the world are taking voluntary pay cuts as their companies lay off workers to cope with the revenue hit from the coronavirus pandemic. Experts say cutting executive pay, while largely a symbolic gesture, could help companies manage reputational damage and enhance their ability to attract and retain workers in the long term.

Executive pay cuts are more a signal to the public and employees than a cost saving move to prevent worker layoffs, said Robin Ferracone, CEO of Farient Advisors LLC, a corporate governance and executive compensation consultancy. She noted that a CEO’s salary often accounts for only 10% to 15% of his or her direct compensation with the rest made up of an annual bonus and stock-based long-term incentives.

“It’s not as though one person’s salary is going to achieve a lot here,” Ferracone said. But the gesture shows those companies are taking more of a “stakeholder” viewpoint like the one expressed by Business Roundtable members, she added.

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About Robin Ferracone

Robin Ferracone Farient headshot

Founder and CEO, Farient Advisors/GECN Group

New York: (646) 626-6931
Los Angeles: (626) 799-2700
robin.ferracone@farient.com

As the founder and CEO of Farient Advisors LLC, Robin has led the strategic development and expansion of the executive compensation, performance, and corporate governance advisory firm. Her client work focuses on providing high-impact decision-making support and organizational solutions based on insightful market insights.

With over 30 years of consulting experience, Robin advises clients in business and talent strategies, executive compensation, organization, value management, and performance measurement. She is the author of Fair Pay Fair Play: Aligning Executive Performance and Pay (John Wiley & Sons, 2010). In addition, Robin has authored numerous articles, is a regular contributor to Forbes.com and Directorship magazine, and is often quoted in national publications. She is a frequent presenter for prominent organizations such as the Council of Institutional Investors, Society for Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals, the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), and The Conference Board.

Robin formerly served on the board of directors of Trupanion, Inc., where she chaired the compensation committee. In addition, Robin is a trustee emeritus of Duke University. She currently chairs the board of WildAid and is a member of 5050 Women on Boards, NACD, Women Corporate Directors, YPO Gold, and the Trusteeship. For 12 years, Robin has been named to the NACD Directorship 100, a list of the most influential people in corporate governance and the boardroom. In 2014, she was selected as one of EY’s Entrepreneurial Winning Women, an annual competition recognizing female entrepreneurs. Robin is also a founding partner of the Global Governance and Executive Compensation (GECN) Group collectively serving clients in more than 35 countries across five continents.

Robin received an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in management science and economics from Duke University.

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