Category: Executive Compensation

Survey updates pay-ratio data

In these survey results (courtesy of thecorporatecounsel.net), audit firm Deloitte provides data as of April 10 regarding pay-ratio disclosures for 294 companies in the S&P 500. Interestingly, so far at least, not many of the accommodations that the SEC deliberately included in the rule to provide “flexibility” have found favor with companies. For example, the survey showed that only 8% of companies used statistical sampling, a methodology initially suggested in comments by the AFL-CIO and adopted by the SEC in an effort to make the pay-ratio rule more palatable to companies.   However, for this first year of reporting, many companies have opted to take a minimalist approach; whether that changes over time as companies become accustomed to the rule and more adventurous in its implementation remains to be seen.

Fallout from pay-ratio reporting

As a general matter, SEC rules do not mandate companies to disclose details about the composition or location of their workforces; Reg S-K requires disclosure of only the number of employees, but no information about them. And the vast majority of companies provide little detail voluntarily. But now, as this article in the WSJ reports, companies are beginning to disclose more information about their workforces overseas, and the impetus for that disclosure is the new pay-ratio rule—all at a time when issues of overseas versus domestic employment are especially fraught. 

Are pay-ratio disclosures misleading?

As I noted in this recent blogpost, a survey conducted by Compensation Advisory Partners LLC of pay-ratio disclosures from 150 companies with a median revenue of $2.1 billion showed that, as of March 9, 2018, the lowest ratio was 1:1 and the highest was 1465:1. What? 1:1? How did that happen? For one explanation, I refer you to this column from Bloomberg’s hilarious Matt Levine, part of which I quote below:

Early pay-ratio trends from compensation consultants

What are the early trends in pay-ratio disclosure?  Surveys conducted by compensation consultants provide some insights.

EY Center for Board Matters identifies investors’ top priorities for companies for 2018

The EY Center for Board Matters has identified investors’ top priorities for companies in 2018, based on its annual investor outreach involving interviews with over 60 institutional investors with an aggregate of $32 trillion under management.

BlackRock issues proxy voting guidelines for 2018 proxy season

As discussed in this PubCo post, BlackRock has recently issued its 2018 Proxy Voting Guidelines for U.S. Securities.  Because BlackRock is reportedly the largest asset management firm (with $6.3 trillion under management), its voting guidelines will matter to more than a few companies.  And BlackRock takes its proxy voting seriously. With the growth in index investing, CEO Laurence Fink has argued, asset managers’ responsibilities of engagement and advocacy have increased, given that asset managers cannot simply sell the shares of companies about which they have doubts if those companies are included in index funds.

Want a preview of pay-ratio disclosure? Equilar releases pay-ratio survey data

Equilar has just released the results of an anonymous survey of public companies, with 356 respondents, which asked these companies to indicate the CEO-employee pay ratios they anticipated reporting in their 2018 proxy statements.  As you would expect, there was a lot of variation among companies based on industry, market cap, revenue, workforce size and geography. In addition,  because the rule provided significant flexibility in how companies could identify the median employee and in how they calculate his or her total annual compensation, variations in company methodology likely had a significant impact on the results. These variations in the data underscore the soundness of the SEC’s view, expressed at the time it adopted the pay-ratio rule, that the rule was “designed to allow shareholders to better understand and assess a particular [company’s] compensation practices and pay ratio disclosures rather than to facilitate a comparison of this information from one [company] to another”; “the primary benefit” of the pay-ratio disclosure, according to the SEC, was to provide shareholders with a “company-specific metric” that can be used to evaluate CEO compensation within the context of that company.