CEO-Worker Pay Gaps
Join the emerging efforts to crack down on corporations that reward top executives at worker expense.
Beginning in 2018, U.S. publicly held corporations must annually report the ratio between their CEO and median worker compensation. Corporate lobby groups and allied Republicans fought hard to repeal, delay, or water down this disclosure mandate, which arises from the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation. But institutional investors weighed in heavily to defend pay ratio disclosure, as did hundreds of thousands of individuals outraged about the extreme pay gaps at the vast majority of large U.S. corporations.
This new data will boost momentum behind efforts to use tax, contracting, and subsidies policies to narrow the gaps. In 2016, the city of Portland, Oregon, adopted the world’s first tax penalty on corporations that pay their CEO more than 100 times their median worker pay. This landmark move doesn’t set a ceiling on CEO pay, but it does set a game-changing precedent that potentially turns every level of government into a battleground over corporate pay policies that fuel inequality. Lawmakers in at least six U.S. states and in the U.S. Congress have introduced legislation similar to the Portland tax. India and the UK are also now requiring pay ratio disclosure.
General resources on CEO-worker pay ratios
- Institute for Policy Studies Policy Brief
- Bloomberg pay ratio tracker
- Rep. Keith Ellison staff report
Resources on the Portland CEO pay surtax:
- Institute for Policy Studies Backgrounder on the Portland CEO-worker Pay Ratio Surtax
- Text of the Portland legislation
- City of Portland Bureau of Revenue assessment of the legislation
- List of the more than 500 publicly traded businesses that “do business” in Portland that may be subject to the surtax.
Legislation related to CEO-worker pay ratios:
- California surtax (SB 1398)
- Connecticut surtax (HB 6373) (The state general assembly is also considering HB 6747, which would disqualify companies with CEO-worker pay ratios of more than 100 to 1 for state subsidies and grants.)
- Illinois fee (HB 3335)
- Massachusetts surtax (S. 1555)
- Minnesota surtax (HF 65)
- Rhode Island surtax (H. 5141 and S. 0318) (The RI state senate is also considering S. 0211, legislation that would give preferential treatment in state contracting to corporations that pay their CEOs no more than 25 times their median worker pay)
- San Francisco City Council approved a resolution in March 2017 urging the San Francisco Employees Retirement System to vote against “excessive” CEO compensation and publish a report prior to December 1, 2017 including the pay ratios of companies in its domestic portfolio.
- Federal surtax: CEO Accountability and Responsibility Act (H.R. 6242)
Letters to the SEC in support of CEO-worker pay ratio disclosure:
A wide range of institutional investors, policymakers, and academics have pressed the SEC for clear and strong federal regulations on CEO pay ratio disclosure. For a full list, see 2017 submissions and 2013/2015 submissions.
- State Treasurers Press SEC Nominee, Congress on CEO Pay Disclosure Rule
- Rep. Keith Ellison, et al., Members of Congress
- Senator Robert Menendez and 8 other senators
- Senator Tammy Baldwin
- 100 investors representing $3 trillion in assets under management
- Network for Sustainable Financial Markets
- Religious Society of Friends
- SharePower Responsible Investing, Inc.
- Trillium Asset Management
- US Social Investment Forum
- Walden Asset Management
- Lynne Dallas, Professor of Law, University of San Diego
- Sue P. Ravenscroft, Roger P. Murphy Professor of Accounting, Iowa State University
- Institute for Policy Studies
Media coverage of the CEO pay surtax and other similar proposals:
- The Guardian: No CEO should earn 1,000 times more than a regular employee
- Orange Country Register: Here’s how much CEOs’ pay has gone up and down — but mostly up and up
- New York Times: Portland Adopts Surcharge on CEO Pay in Move vs. Income Inequality
- The Nation: This City Just Came Up With a Novel Way to Fight Inequality: Taxing Corporations With Extreme Pay Gaps
- Fast Company: Why Portland’s Tax On CEO Pay Matters
- Moyers & Company: Local Governments Aren’t Waiting for a Federal Fix for Runaway CEO Pay
- Bloomberg: CEO Pay Targeted in San Francisco, Rhode Island
- Bloomberg: Income Inequality Battle Brewing At State-Level
- Fortune: Donald Trump Needs to Do Something About High CEO Pay
- American Prospect: Corporate Allies in Washington Take Aim at CEO Pay Reform
- Rep. Keith Ellison Takes a Hard Look at New Pay Ratio Data
- Historic CEO Pay Tax Passes in Portland
- Tracking Corporate Responses to the Tax Scam
- How to Track CEO-Worker Pay Ratios
- Del Monte’s Pay Ratio is Largest to Date at 1,465:1
- Eleven ‘Small’ Banks that Would Gain from the Senate Banking Bill Sport Hefty Pay Gaps
- Bloomberg Q&A on New CEO-Worker Pay Ratio Data
- A New Landmark in CEO-Worker Pay Ratio Disclosure
Inequality.org co-editor Sarah Anderson explains how to build on CEO-worker pay ratio disclosure by linking this inequality indicator to tax and contracting policies.