Should executives share the pain of pay cuts?

| Print |  Email
Wednesday, October 01, 2008

If corporate ethicist David Layzell had his way, all public companies would institute performance-based executive pay programs like Monaco Coach recently did.

In response to lagging sales, the Coburg-based luxury RV maker announced this summer they were laying off workers and shuttering manufacturing operations in Indiana. The company also decided to reduce the pay of its top executives.

The program cuts the pay of top managers by 15% to 50%, though portions of their compensation can be earned back if they reduce company inventory by $58 million over the next 12 months, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

As the economy slows, top-level executive pay is bound to be an issue with investors as overall business suffers. Layzell, associate director at the Portland State University Center for Professional Integrity and Accountability, says reducing executive pay when times are bad is what any “reasonable company” should do.

But premium executive talent can be tough to find and to keep. A company must also consider the consequences of a skilled and experienced executive leaving for a more desirable job if they take a pay cut. A company must ask, “Can we consciously pay below market value,” Layzell says. After all, “If you pay below market value, you get below market quality,” he says.

Aside from finances, a favorable company image is also at stake. By reconsidering the compensation of a struggling company’s top decision-makers, it addresses the question of “sharing the pain,” says Layzell.

Monaco CEO Kay Toolson’s pay was slashed by 50% and president John Nepute’s compensation was cut by 30%. This should save the company about a million dollars over the year, says Craig Wanichek, Monaco’s director of investor relations.

“It’s about tying the objective of the company with the management team,” Wanichek says. Executive pay-reduction initiatives are relatively new in corporate governance. Layzell, who also held a number of senior finance roles at Intel for 26 years, says such programs were born from the excesses of the 1990s. In recent years, exorbitant executive compensation has encountered a firestorm of scrutiny as investors and employees demand management be held accountable, not rewarded, for a failing company.

Saving money by reducing your own pay, though, is just a small part of it. It’s also a statement of solidarity, says Layzell. When employees see that their bosses are willing to cut their own pay, it boosts workplace morale.                     

JASON SHUFFLER


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


 

More Articles

5 things to know about veterans in the workforce

The Latest
Wednesday, July 01, 2015
070215-vetsthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

There are more than 10 million former military members working in the United States.


Read more...

Storyteller in Chief: Power Player

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY LINDA WESTON

In 1996, after a 17-year career in the destination marketing industry, where I gained national standing as the CEO of the Convention & Visitors Association of Lane County, I was recruited by the founders of a new professional basketball league for women. The American Basketball League (ABL) hoped to leverage the success of the 1996 USA women’s national team at the Atlanta Olympics — much like USA Soccer is now leveraging the U.S. Women’s National Team’s victory in the World Cup. The ABL wanted a team in Portland, and they wanted me to be its general manager.


Read more...

Best Foot Forward

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE

Whether you're stepping out to work or onto the track, Pacific Northwest shoe companies have you covered.


Read more...

Reader Input: Fair Play

May 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Former Governor John Kitzhaber's resignation in February prompted some soul searching in this state about ethical behavior in industry and government.


Read more...

5 questions for ImpactFlow CEO Tyler Foreman

The Latest
Thursday, August 13, 2015
impactflowthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Portland-based startup ImpactFlow recently announced a $5.7 million funding round. CEO and co-founder Tyler Foreman talks about matching businesses with nonprofits, his time at Intel and the changing face of philanthropy.


Read more...

The Cover Story

Linda Baker
Thursday, August 27, 2015
01-cover-0915-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

How do you put a baby on the cover of a business magazine without it looking too cutesy?


Read more...

Unshakable

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY BRIAN LIBBY

Ben Kaiser holds his ground.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS