Ameren

Annual Meeting: April 28, 2016

At Ameren, compensation is up, with increases in salary and non-equity incentive cash. Salary increased twice in one year for Chairman, President and CEO Warren Baxter (once upon a title change), with a total increase of more than 17% in a single year. The bonus also increased to over $1 million, and is well over twice what it was in 2013. Cash may seem of particular value to an executive that fears declining stock price.

The goal of any company should be to promote long-term and sustainable value creation that can withstand predictable long-term risks faced in the industry. As You Sow has filed two proposals with Ameren that relate to these issues: one that calls for a policy that requires executives to maintain a portion of equity past retirement and the other than asks for a report examining some of the larger questions faced by the company.

The proposal related to executive compensation (number 5 on the ballot) calls on the board to adopt a policy that senior executives retain a significant percentage of shares acquired through equity compensation programs until two years following their departure from the company, through retirement or otherwise. This is a fairly routine shareholder proposal designed to focus on long-term alignment of executive and shareholder interest. If adopted it would prevent an executive from departing a company (particularly at signs of trouble) and immediately cashing out all stock. As we note in a memo on the proposal Ameren’s ownership guidelines are relatively weak.

The goal of this proposal is to encourage executive management to put longer term policies in place that ensure the company can weather longer term risks. We believe it is particularly necessary at Ameren — a holding company for power and energy companies – which needs to focus on long-term and sustainable value creation that can withstand predictable long-term risks faced in the industry.

The second As You Sow proposal (number 4 on the ballot) focuses on those risks. That proposal calls for Ameren to produce a public report analyzing how Ameren could protect shareholder value, reduce the risk of stranded assets, and decrease its climate change impacts by aggressive renewable energy adoption including:

1. Increasing Ameren’s energy mix to 30 – 50% renewable energy by 2030.
2. Increasing Ameren’s energy mix to 70 – 100% renewable energy by 2050.
3. Propose changes to Ameren’s strategic plans that could help Ameren achieve the above targets.

A memo outlining the rationale for the proposal explains its particular importance at Ameren. The electric power sector is rapidly moving from coal to carbon free renewable energy resources due to a number of convergent environmental imperatives and market forces. These include regulatory requirements for utilities to control particulate matter, mercury, and carbon pollution, as well as plummeting costs for renewable energy. Yet, Ameren has failed to shift away from coal. Ameren is behind its peers in transitioning its energy mix to include more renewable energy resources, leaving it in an ever-more uncompetitive and risky position in which it remains saddled with aging, polluting, high cost coal plants costs for years to come

Wells Fargo

Meeting date: April 26, 2016

Executive compensation at Wells Fargo is nothing if not consistent, excessive and consistent.

The salary for John Stumpf is $2.8 million, as it has been for the past several years. All the salaries for the Named Executive Officers (NEOs) are well over the 162m deductibility limit. The proxy statement explicitly states that the compensation committee, “Determined that the benefits to the Company and stockholders of achieving the appropriate compensation balance outweighed the non-deductibility of salaries and RSR awards granted in July 2015 in excess of IRC Section 162(m) limits.” Stockholders may disagree.

Newly promoted president Timothy Sloan has a salary of $2 million (a 9 percent raise) that is higher than that of the vast majority of CEOs (only 7 CEOs actually make more in salary than he does). Such high salaries drive high pay not only internally but also externally. Comparison of “peers” is easiest to peg to wages.
Once again this year Stumpf received a non-equity incentive compensation $4,000,000, the identical amount he has received the last several years. These high and consistent bonuses earned the company red flags that helped place it on our overpaid list.

A high bonus should reward extraordinary performance over a given time-frame. A consistent bonus, such as seen at Wells Fargo, suggests that this feature of compensation in essence has become fixed rather than variable.

Chipotle

Annual meeting: May 11, 2016

Black or pinto, equity or cash, the executive compensation package at Chipotle has been a bloated burrito for too many years. While the food safety crises faced by Chipotle in 2015 may not be directly linked to the company’s continuing extraordinary executive compensation, they give shareholders another reason to vote against compensation this year. While the board has made some changes – most of which fall into the “too little, too late” category –the fundamental issues of Chipotle’s compensation remain the same: the company has two CEOs and pays them each too much.

Chipotle received a bit of positive press when its preliminary proxy came out for the fact that because results “fell significantly short” of performance targets, no 2015 bonuses were awarded to executive officers. But the fact that anyone thought the executives might be entitled to an annual bonus at all in a year when the stock price declined by nearly one third indicates the audacious standards that have been reached. Last year both CEOs received bonuses of over $3 million in cash, and while not receiving that money may have stung slightly, it is important to note that Steve Ells made over $210 million from the cashing in Chipotle stock in the past five years, in addition to his cash compensation. One presumes he has put a bit away to tide him over during this bonus-free year.

Also of note, co-CEO Monte Moran received over $100 million in value in options exercised in 2015 alone. (An enterprising journalist ought to research when those options were exercised in regard to the timing of the bad publicity Chipotle received this year.)

If the CEOs had held on to the stock options received in past years, or exercised them and purchased additional stock, they would have been personally hit by the falling stock price to a much higher extent. Instead, both have routinely exercised shares when they could do so. Steve Ells owns fewer shares than he did in 2011. In this context, the loss of cash bonuses is considerably less impressive.

Each CEO received salaries of well beyond 162m deductions: $1.5 million for Ellls, $1.3 million for Moran. In addition, their compensation includes stock awards of over $12 million. While the proxy statement notes that these awards were granted prior to the crisis, Eleanor Bloxham, CEO of the Value Alliance wisely points out that the board should have considered clawing them back.

That company which had changed its long-term compensation plan in 2015, changed it again in 2016: with “vesting of the 2016 awards to be based on restoration of shareholder value to approximate levels achieved prior to the food-borne illness issues that impacted us in the latter half of 2015.” Specifically the new stock awards will pay out only if Chipotle shares trade at a level of $700 per share for a 30 consecutive trading-day period.

Many experts raise serious concerns as to tying compensation so tightly to stock price, which can create a myopic focus. http://www.cnbc.com/2016/03/15/why-chipotle-shouldnt-tie-ceo-pay-to-stock-price.html

SHAREHOLDER PROPOSAL

Shareholders will also vote for a shareholder proposal that may help determine if sustainability is a main ingredient or a garnish. The proposal calls on the compensation committee to assess, “the feasibility of integrating sustainability metrics into the performance measures of senior executives under the Company’s compensation incentive plans. Sustainability is defined as how environmental and social considerations, and related financial impacts, are integrated into corporate strategy over the long term.

Clean Yield Asset Management, the proponent of the proposal, has filed at the SEC an open letter to shareholders well worth reading in its entirety. The letter notes that many companies in the industry have explicit sustainability reports (Dunkin Donuts, Panera, McDonalds, Starbucks and Yum). It also provides links to a wealth of academic studies that support the value of sustainability linked to compensation. http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1058090/000121465916010365/g317160px14a6g.htm

After outlining the reasons for the proposal Clean Yield also raises important points on the newly announced plan: “Tying compensation to the recovery of the pre-crisis price of CMG stock is not a substitute for the deficits identified above. Share prices can be artificially manipulated through stock buybacks, mergers and acquisitions, earnings restatements and other means. Depending upon the strategies Chipotle uses to elevate its stock price, the latter could recover while leaving the company just as vulnerable as before to sustainability-related failures.”

BB&T

Meeting date: April 26, 2016

The day BB&T released its proxy statement this week was the same day SEC Chair Mary Jo White spoke before the Chamber of Commerce mentioning potential regulation and additional scrutiny regarding non-GAAP figures. In our recently released Overpaid CEOs report BB&T had been one of only 24 companies that received a red flag for the extent of its use of Non-GAAP figures (based on a report we acquired from Analysts Accounting Observer). One concern regarding pay for performance generally is that it can incentivize financial engineering. Systemic problems are harder to spot the more “non-recurring charges” there are. BB&T, which has acquired over 30 banks since 1999, has a challenging enough account statement to unsort.

GAAP – as you may know – stands for “generally accepted accounting principles.” One reason to have and abide by such agreed upon principles in disclosure is that it allows for comparisons between companies. BB&T bases some of its compensation on such comparisons, but as far as we can tell, it compares its non-GAAP figures to other’s GAAP figures.

BB&T’s stock has fallen more than 15% since August. Yet BB&T CEO Kelly King’s non-equity incentive compensation actually increased from $3.4 million to $4.1 million. More than half of that cash bonus is based on a Long Term Incentive Pay (LTIP) plan for a period covering 2013 to 2015. In fact, as noted in the proxy, ”Increases in 2015 total compensation paid under our regular compensation program resulted primarily from payments under the 2013-2015 LTIP.”

The proxy statement comes with a special appendix titled “Annex A – Non GAAP Financial Measures.” The compensation committee used the adjusted 3-year average ROCE (return on common equity) from this annex of 9.73% rather than the GAAP figure of 8.58%. Under the adjusted figure BB&T states that it performed at the 61st percentile relative to peers, which is how the payment was calculated. However, presumably the company is comparing its adjusted figures to other companies GAAP figures. This comparison is then practically meaningless.

Only 73 percent of shareholders voted in support of pay at BB&T last year. After the meeting last year, in June 2015, the Compensation Committee adopted a “Merger Completion Incentive Program, a unique, one-time incentive opportunity to reward significant strategic achievements related to the successful acquisition and conversion of Susquehanna.”

The company’s proxy statement mentions that it met with several shareholders in the intervening months, and that shareholders were not happy with this merger incentive. Ultimately the company still paid the merger bonus (adding $500,000 to King’s already generous bonus), but with 50% in RSUs, “which are subject to a 3-year vesting period and can be forfeited in the event of a negative risk outcome or annual operating loss.” It is difficult to imagine that in light of other compensation issues at the company that such actions this will be sufficient to appease shareholders.

Viacom

Annual meeting March 14, 2016

With a sharp fall in stock price and a tremendous increase in pay for CEO Phillippe Dauman (to an astonishing $54 million); Viacom may seem like a candidate for a significant vote against compensation. However, only one class of shares can vote at the annual meeting, and Sumner Redstone controls 80% of those shares. Those shares were voted a few years back to avoid even having an annual advisory vote on pay.

The increase in Dauman’s compensation, included an extraordinary “contract renewal” payment of over $17 million. ISS issued a recommendation against six of the directors up for election, in part based on concerns regarding board independence. As quoted in a New York Times article, ISS noted, “These ties, along with ongoing concerns over executive compensation and independent oversight at Viacom, call in to question the board’s willingness to represent the interests of minority shareholders going forward.”

The second largest shareholder of voting shares, Mario Gabelli with over 5 million shares, is quoted in the same article as saying “There is nothing you can do. It is moot.”
Gabelli could have, however, voted against directors or in favor of a shareholder proposal seeking to get rid of the dual class structure. Based on the 8-k released March 16 it appears that he did not. This should not be surprising, Gabelli did not vote against a single compensation plan on our list of overpaid CEOs last year.

As Viacom’s proxy statement noted, “Holders of our non-voting Class B common stock are not entitled to vote at the Annual Meeting, . . . , and will receive this proxy statement and related materials only for informational purposes.” Perhaps the information gleaned could be used to re-evaluate whether holding shares in a controlled company is a wise investment.

PPG Industries

Meeting Date: April 21, 2016

Total disclosed compensation for PPG CEO Charles E. Bunch for 2015 was $29,998,373, an increase of over 27% over 2014’s $21,628,081. A significant portion of the reported value was the change in pension value of $15.6 million, as compared to last year’s of $7 million.

The company has taken action to address the issue, but it may be too little, too late to appease shareholders. Bunch’s benefit under the Non-Qualified Pension Plan (a plan that ceased to be available for executives hired after January 2006) was frozen effective September 1, 2015. While he will accrue no more benefits the amount already in his account of $44,417,208, will earn a guaranteed interest rate “at 120% of the September 2015 long-term Applicable Federal Rate.” As far as I can ascertain that rate was 2.64% so his guaranteed interest rate would be 3.16%, and Bunch will earn more than $1.4 million in interest per year (without considering the effects of compounding interest).

Last year the generous retirement plan was only one of several red flags the compensation package earned. In addition we noted that PPG’s CEO had among the highest annual incentive in 4 out of five years. This suggests that rather than a bonus for extraordinary accomplishments the incentive has come to be seen as a part of pay the CEO is entitled to. Likewise, the CEO received over half a million in “all other compensation” in 2014. For 2015, Bunch’s non-equity incentive compensation was down slightly to $3.3 million, and “all other compensation” was $651,796. Among the items in “all other compensation” are those that individuals at this level can reasonably be expected to pay for themselves (including financial counseling.)

Coca-Cola

Annual Meeting: April 27, 2016

Last year’s proxy disclosed total pay for Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent was over $25 million, and in 2015 that same figure was $14.6 million. So perhaps it is not surprising to see headlines that read: “Coca-Cola Slashes CEO Kent’s Pay for 2015.” But slash might be the wrong word.

Total disclosed pay was indeed down, but not really by the amounts highlighted in the article. A closer look show that cash compensation for Kent actually increased in 2015. In fact, Kent’s non-equity incentive compensation of $4.6 million is the highest it had been in several years. When I first saw the number, I imagined Kent saying to the comp committee, “You know I already have enough Coca-Cola stock: give me something I can use. Like cold hard cash.”

Kent currently owns over 13 million shares of Coca-Cola stock. The company has been criticized recently for its extensive use of equity and the resulting dilution. In October 2014, Coca-Cola said it would grant fewer stock options and reduced the number of eligible employees. For 2015, the grant date value of Kent’s stock and option awards declined from $15.8 million to $7.7 million.

Another major component of the reduction was a decline in the category of change in pension value: last year the figure reported there was over $7 million, this year it was 0.

Why did the cash bonus go up? Two features driving this bonus were added in 2015, profit before tax growth was weighted at 50% Net operating revenue was weighted at 25% and unit case volume at 25%. In the prior year this final category, essentially sales volume, had underperformed, as had EPS growth.

One more point about Coca-Cola, Kent holds the position of both Chair and CEO, despite shareholder pressure to split the positions. A recent study from Institutional Investor Services found that at companies where the positions of Chair and CEO were combined positions pay was approximately $2.9 million higher than companies that had an independent board chair.

Schlumberger

Annual meeting: April 6, 2016

Schlumberger is one of those S&P 500 companies that you may never have heard of. It describes itself as “the world’s largest oilfield services company” and specializes in oil and gas exploration technology. As with other oil companies, Schlumberger has had a difficult year: the stock price has fallen dramatically, revenues are down year-over-year by 27% and the company has laid off 34,000 workers since the end of 2014. However, compensation for CEO Paal Kibsgaard – over $18 million — didn’t significantly decrease. In fact his cash compensation actually increased by nearly 12%. This demonstrates the broad discretion of the Compensation Committee, and the hollowness of an elaborately constructed pay for performance plan.

Changing the goalpost

The company set significantly lower earnings per share (EPS) goals for this year than it had in the past, subsequently lowered them half way through the year, and then decided that even those goals should be based on a new accounting principle of “belief” rather than actual numbers.

The EPS target for the first 6 months of 2015 was $2.70 and the threshold for receiving any bonus was EPS of $1.70 or more. In July 2015, the board lowered targets for the second half of the year making what was once the threshold closer to the target, with a full bonus earned at an EPS of $1.80.
Of note, 2014’s EPS target was $5.40 and threshold was $5.00

Even with the significant reductions, it was a challenge to meet targets. However, the compensation committee decided to use non-GAAP figures. Here’s a quote from the proxy statement:
“Furthermore, the Committee believed that the $0.30 of charges in the first half of 2015 and the $1.43 of charges in the second half of 2015 resulted in EPS on a GAAP basis that did not reflect Schlumberger’s operating trends and arose largely from actions that management took in order to proactively address the industry downturn and other events outside of management control. Based on these results, the Compensation Committee approved a payout of 74% of target for the first half of 2015 and 88% of target for the second of 2015, resulting in a combined percentage of 81% of target for the EPS component of the annual cash incentive.”

In other words, the company first decided to base less of the bonus on EPS, then lowered EPS goals significantly (and including mid-year) and then ultimately based EPS numbers on belief. Despite the fact that actual EPS for the second half of the year was actually a negative number, the Committee approved payouts for that component of the goal at 81%.

Comparisons and Benchmarking:

The proxy statement actually touts the fact that the company’s “stock price declined only 40% between June 30, 2014 and December 31, 2015.” The word “only” here references comparisons to the price of crude oil and the Philadelphia Oil Service Sector. However, when it comes to setting compensation the company does not limit itself to oil industry peers but also uses a second peer group of “large companies with significant international operations,” a list which includes such companies as Caterpillar, Merck, and Microsoft. Wouldn’t we all like to pick comparisons?
Benchmarking also inflated pay at Schlumberger. It is a widespread practice to target or benchmark compensation at the 50th percentile of peers. Schlumberger goes further: “The Compensation Committee seeks to target total direct compensation (i.e., base salary plus annual cash incentives plus LTI awards) for our NEOs and other executive officers at or very close to the 75th percentile of the Company’s two main executive compensation comparator groups.” This is extremely unusual: only five companies in the S&P 500 set the threshold at that percentile.
The rationale for targetting at the 75th percentile, that “the market for executive talent in the oil and gas industry is exceptionally competitive” has appeared in proxy company proxy statements for the last three years. The retention justification may be justifiable in a competitive industry on an upward swing, but loses meaning in the context of Schlumberger’s industry downturn.

The clever use of comparator groups also helps explain why cash bonus increased in 2015. The financial element of the bonus includes a Relative Performance Incentive (RPI) where the company considers its revenue growth (% change), and pretax operating margin growth (basis points) compared with Halliburton and Baker Hughes. Relative performance is a fine strategy to use as long as it is used in both up and down cycles. This was not in place when the price of a barrel of oil was increasing: it was added in July 2013. Even so, despite the cherry picking of the companies there was one more exclusion to be made. Specifically, “The Compensation Committee decided to exclude the results of our WesternGeco business for purposes of assessing our relative performance because Halliburton and Baker Hughes have no seismic operations.”

Also of note: Upcoming merger

In the midst of the chaos, Schlumberger is acquiring another Cameron International (a manufacturer of materials used in oil and gas exploration, including valves, wellheads), in a deal scheduled to close shortly. When the cash and stock transaction was announced in August 2015 it was valued at $14.8 billion, but that was a long time ago.
One of Kibsgaard’s personal goal metrics that contributed to his bonus this year was completion of certain merger tasks. He was thus incentivized to proceed this merger whether or not it was ultimately in the best interests of shareholders. The facts on the ground have changed considerably, and one recent article pointed out a number of specific pitfalls at Cameron.

It could also leave Schlumberger shareholders on the ticket for significant severance packages, apparently even if terminations are based – as so many company layoffs have been – on downturns in the industry. Specifically, the Cameron’s mergers proxy notes that, “Schlumberger shall provide . . . to any Covered Employee whose employment is terminated for reasons other than cause prior to the second anniversary of the Effective Time severance benefits equal to the benefits provided under the applicable Cameron severance plan as in effect immediately prior to the date hereof.”

Finally, mergers can cloud accounting even further. Maybe the cloudy accounting will help prop up pay next year.

Qualcomm

At today’s annual meeting Qualcomm’s shareholders vote on a pay package for CEO Steve Mollenkopf that has fallen from a reported $60.7 million last year to $10.3 million for 2015. The significantly reduced pay package is a victory for shareholders who voted heavily against last year’s package, as well as for activist investor Jana Partners.
This Sunday, the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Dan McSwain wrote an excellent article about Qualcomm and CEO compensation. He quotes from Piketty, Buffet and Keynes as well as noting that Qualcomm’s CEO was one of the 25 most overpaid CEOs mentioned in As You Sow’s recent report.

McSwain does an excellent analysis of Qualcomm’s current troubles and writes, “Critics have a point: It’s hard to see how $61 million in 2014 might reflect Mollenkopf’s performance. He was a spanking new CEO, and his previous job included running a chip unit that was late to market.”

Yet then he goes on to say, “Here is where simplistic arguments over executive pay break down.”

In writing on compensation I am more often chided for being complex and confusing rather than “simplistic.” I trust McSwain wasn’t referring to our report with its thorough methodology. While many of the points McSwain raised are solid, one borders on simplistic and I want to unpack it a bit.

He wrote, for example, “We note that $30 million of Mollenkopf’s 2014 pay came in the form of restricted shares that will vest over five years, to align his incentives with owners.”
The time-based restricted shares Mollenkopf received align his incentives more with someone who has been given a gift of shares than with someone who has invested money in the company. Despite the fact that the stock peaked at $82 a share in July 2014 and fell to approximately $52, shares of restricted stock still have plenty of value. Mollenkopf lost nothing. Sure, he doesn’t have as much as was predicted, but there’s little doubt that he’ll accumulate great wealth over his time at Qualcomm whatever the company’s fate. These awards, based only on “continued service” were once fairly common practice, derided by critics as “pay for pulse”

More often these days we see Performance Share Unites (PSUs). Qualcomm did award some performance shares but it as the company notes, no shares were earned under the Fiscal 2013 PSUs because relative TSR was below the payout threshold.

Speaking of alignment with shareholder: it is worth noting that Executive Chairman Paul Jacob’s holdings declined from 2.3 million shares to 1.7 million shares over the past year. Apparently he sold half a million shares between December 2014 and December 2015.

One final quibble with McSwain’s article was the use of the word “cap” in this quote: “Voila, the company in January released its 2016 proxy statement, which caps executive pay at $10 million a year.” To me that work implied a forward looking limit, which does not appear to be the case. Perhaps McSwain meant “this year” instead of “a year.” Wild fluctuations in total disclosed compensation do not reflect limits. When we do the overpaid analysis many of the red flags cover a multiple year period for that reason.

Yet despite these small debate points, I strongly agree with McSwain’s conclusion:

“If the world must be saved from high-priced CEOs, good or bad, the job falls to shareholders. As most stocks reside inside pension and index funds, some experts say such structures encourage detachment and lethargy. But Keynes, the great early 20th century economist and money manager, might say such problems are timeless. In any case, the wealth in those big funds is ultimately held by you and me. This is something to bear in mind the next time a proxy mailer goes straight to the recycle bin.”

Here’s what Robert Reich, the Washington Post and others have said about the Overpaid CEOs report

Less than two weeks ago we launched our report, “The 100 Most Overpaid CEOs: Are Fund Managers Asleep at the Wheel.” (If you missed the webinar you can view it on the site.)
The response has been fantastic, and we hope this recap will inspire you to think of ways you can take action.

Robert Reich’s Facebook February 18th post had the largest reach. At one point, the number of downloads directed from Reich’s link out-numbered, by 6 to 1, those coming from all other sources combined. His post on our report began: “CEO pay keeps skyrocketing, as does the pay of the top executives under them – expropriating the money of millions of people with pensions, IRAs, and 401(k) plans. Why can’t we do anything about this? Because almost all this money is parked in giant mutual funds that don’t want to rock the boat – so they approve these scandalous pay packages.” Reich noted some of the funds most likely to approve the packages, but also noted that, in his words, not all funds “kiss the derriers of CEOs this much.” He concluded, “The point is, if you have an IRA or 401(k), it’s your money. And you can switch from a fund that’s in bed with CEOs to one that’s not.” His post was shared over 2,000 times.

The first article to hit the wires was Caleb Melby and Alicia Ritcey’s Bloomberg, piece that focused particularly on Vanguard, Blackrock, and TIAA-CREF as outliers. These funds — described in a table as “CEO Pay Superfans” – are very much deserving of the attention they received. The reporters also interviewed Joseph Chi, co-head of portfolio management at Dimensional, a fund that had among the most improved voting records compared to last year’s report. “We continue to press on this issue because it is important to shareholders.”

Jenna McGregor in her Washington Post article headlined, “Your retirement plans may be supporting the most overpaid CEOs” also interviewed – or attempted to – a number of funds that were excessive supporters of pay packages. The article concludes with a quote from Nell Minow (a governance expert that appeared on the webinar), making the cogent point that such high votes act as “cover” for over-paying boards and compensation committee members.

If you’d like to see a slide show of each of the top ten most over paid, check out Yuval Rosenberg’s Fiscal Times article “This CEO got $142 million more than he deserved.” Each slide gives additional information on the company and CEO. A similar countdown story was written by Laura Kulikowski of TheStreet.com.

If you are interested in seeing how the list changed year over year Angelo Young of the International Business Times (which covered the story last year as well), took the time to analyze and compare last year’s list.

James McRitchie, of CorprateGovernance.net wrote that, “Influencing corporate governance may be a more direct way of creating a future world aligned with our own values than focusing on government alone.” His great write-up of our report adds, “Don’t look to the 1% to save us. They’re sitting fat and happy with the current system. If we want the system to change, we need to pay attention to how our investments are voted.”

Local newspapers in Pittsburgh, Orange County, California, and Waco, Texas took the study and connected it to individual companies with connections to the region. A reporter in Kansas focused on a local fund in: “Waddell gets panned for rubber-stamping CEO pay at investments.

The article in Orange County generated some push back, the Orange County Register did an editorial pushing back on the idea, with the title: “CEO pay: most cats not fat.” That, unfortunately, has been picked up by some smaller papers as well. We’re working on a response to it – but for now will just note that the data cited is from the American Enterprise Institute and does not distinguish between public and private company CEOs. The use of average can also distort (if I’m alone in a room with a newborn baby the average age in the room is 26, but that statistic is meaningless.)

Coverage was also good in the industry press which means the people who have some power are hearing about it too. Pension & Investments covered the study twice, once specifically, and also in a larger story on the up-coming proxy season. The report was covered in Responsible Investor and by the Human Resources industry. (Coverage at these publications is hbehind pay walls.)

The coverage continues to come in. Triple Pundit (people, planet, profit) published this article March 1.
We’re very grateful to you all.

This is going to be an exciting proxy season!