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

Streetfight

News
Sunday, December 07, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

On Friday, Uber switched on an app — and with one push of the button torpedoed Portland’s famed public process.


Read more...

Justice for All

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Lawger upends the typical hourly based fee model by letting clients determine the cost.


Read more...

A legislative preview — and celebration

News
Friday, January 23, 2015
012315-speaker-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

The Northwest Environmental Business Council previews the 2015 legislative agenda as Hatch Oregon celebrates Oregon's new community crowdfunding rules.


Read more...

5 schools helping students crack code

The Latest
Thursday, January 29, 2015
codeduthumbnailBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

As the costs of college mount, and as employer demand for software developers soars, coding schools and classes are popping up everywhere.


Read more...

5 companies react to lower fuel prices

The Latest
Thursday, January 15, 2015
thumb-shutterstock 233787049BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Consumers love the savings they get from low oil prices, but how has business been affected?


Read more...

See How They Run

January-Powerbook 2015
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Studying ground-running birds, a group that ranks among nature's speediest and most agile bipedal runners, to build a faster robot.


Read more...

Corner Office: Pam Edstrom

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

Seven tidbits of information from an agency partner and co-founder of Waggener Edstrom in Lake Oswego.


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