DO? Essay, Research Paper


This report explores the issue of the pay that top executives make, and the reasons why

they do. It also suggests improvements that can be made to make the system better.

High Pay Seems Small When Compared To Company Profits

Many companies pull in profits that are extremely high. When an employee of such a

companies salary is compared to the amount of profit that the company earns, it starts to

seem reasonable. It only makes sense that if the employee is directly responsible for the

success of their company, then they deserve to get their payback. It seems ironic, but

many salaries even look small once compared with a companies profits.

Top Executives Are Under A Lot Of Pressure

Being the CEO of a company is not an easy job. There is all kinds of pressure for a person

in such a position to succeed. If they do not, then it is their job on the line. Therefore,

they deserve to receive a large sum of money for the work that they do. It is the only way

to compensate these employees for the tremendous strain that their job puts on them. It is

essential that the employees get paid the amount of money that they deserve.

Pay Should Reflect Performance

When CEOs are being given big paychecks, they are expected to perform at a high level.

There success is impeccable. However, this does not always happen. There should be

some way of connecting pay to job performance. The best way of doing this would be to

award bonuses to those workers who are at the top of their class. This would not only

motivate workers to do a good job, but also reward the employees that do succeed.



It is a well known fact that many people holding high positions in companies make an

exorbitant amount of money. Some, however, say that they do not deserve the amount

that they are paid. They feel that for the amount of work that is done by these executives,

their paycheck is simply too high. Also, they believe that these high paid workers often do

a mediocre job, while still managing to reap the benefits of being an executive. While

these are viable arguments against this issue, the other side of the spectrum shows that this

is not so. There is an equal amount of evidence, if not more, that suggests that executives

earn every penny of their paychecks.

The CEOs of companies are under an extraordinary amount of pressure. They face the

task of making sure that a company pulls in a profit, or possibly losing their job. There are

few, if any other positions that put an employee in this situation. Important decisions are

made by them everyday, many of which decide whether a company will prosper, or go

under. Many of these men had to work their way to the top. They usually have extensive

business backgrounds, and know their field well. There are very few people qualified, or

knowledgeable enough to perform well in executive positions. That makes the ones that

are, a hot commodity. Thus allowing them to demand the high pay that they earn.

High Pay Seems Small When Compared To Company Profits

When the public sees a salary that they consider to be too big, they are usually looking at

only half of the picture. It is impossible to look at just the salary, without taking any other

factors into consideration. One must look at the amount of earnings, compared to the

profits of the company.

For instance, Robert Allen, who runs ATT was recently pointed out by 60 Minutes as

being an overpaid executive. Their major problem was that he had been responsible for

laying off 40,000 employees, while still managing to give himself a large pay increase. At

first glance, this situation may appear to be one involving a greedy and overpaid executive.

However, upon closer examination, it proves to be much to the contrary. The situation

wherein the 40,000 employees were laid off, was not a matter of getting rid of people for

an unfounded reason. It was more a matter of getting rid of an excessively large work

force, and getting the same job done with fewer people. This not only benefited ATT, but

also, the customers receiving service from ATT. “For exactly the same service in 1996,

the average family will be paying $11 less.”1 This is due to the fact that the consumer’s

money was not going to a larger number of employees, but going directly to the minimal

cost of performing the job. Robert Allen has a total salary of 20 million dollars. This

salary seems to be extremely high when put as a statistic by itself. This changes, though,

when you compare it to the total earning of ATT. His salary calculates to be 1/3,450 of

ATT’s gross. All of the sudden, the 20 million dollars does not seem like such a high

figure after all. Another factor that serves to make his salary a valid amount, is that even

if his total pay was split between all of the laid off workers, they would only receive about

$500, not much more than a weeks pay. When all of the cards are on the table, a salary of

20 million dollar starts to look quite reasonable.

Top Executives Are Under A Lot Of Pressure

Most jobs are clear-cut. A person has a designated task to perform, and the method of

performing this task is clearly laid out. If all directions are followed, then there is not too

much that can go wrong. This, unfortunately, is not the situation for top executives in

companies. They are in the tough position of making decisions that may affect the whole

company. With one bad move, they can bring a multi-million dollar business under. On

the same level, though, that can bring in an infinite amount of profit by making a good

move. All executives realize this, and this puts an superfluous amount of pressure on

them. Most people could not handle this on a day in, day out basis. It would eventually

catch up to them.

Seeing that one person is given so much power, what guarantee is there that they will do a

good job? There is none. That is why there has to be a large amount of money involved.

If a person did a job such as this, and received a small amount of pay, then there would

not be much incentive for them to do a good job. They could always find another job,

with a similar amount of pay, that did not put them under the stress that executive jobs put

them under. Once an immense salary comes into play, then that gives a person reason to

thrive in such an industry. When a person has a goal such as this, it tends to elevate their

performance to a higher level. This means a company succeeds, and pulls in a profit. It

seems that whenever money becomes a factor, a much greater importance is put on things,

and a much smaller margin of error is tolerated. The top executives are the ones who are

affected by this, and it is they who are rewarded, or punished depending on the outcome

of their company.

US Executives Paid Three Times More Than Other Countries For A Reason

US executives receive a substantially larger pay than their worldwide colleagues. One

report on earnings showed that “US CEOs were earning 3.2 times more than their British

counterparts.”2 This is a tremendous difference, when one considers that these people are

doing the same job. This contrast in salaries leads one to ask the question: Why do

Americans earn so much more? The quality of work is not an issue. There are many quite

successful businessmen in Britain, as there are in America. It is not a question of talent,

because if a person can be successful in one field or situation, then they will most likely be

able to cross it over into another area. In other words, if a businessman is able to be

successful in Britain, then they will presumably be able to succeed in America. The reason

why Americans are paid more is really quite simple. America does things on a much larger

scale than other countries. This does not only concern salaries, but just about all other

fields as well. The problem is not finding qualified people that will work for lower wages.

However, it is more an issue of companies realizing the magnitude of the job being done,

and rewarding the employee with an amount of money that they deserve. This is an

acknowledgment by businesses, that CEOs of companies should be getting the pay that

they get.

If a company in America wanted to, they could easily hire an executive from another

country at a lower rate. In fact, many workers from other countries are hired. However,

when this happens, it is not a decision designed to save money. It is a decision that is

meant only to bring in quality workers. The new employees are usually started off with an

“American” level of pay. It is the company, not the worker, that is responsible for high

wages. This negates the idea that quality workers can not be found at a reasonable rate.

It is the decision of the company to pick pay rates that are high, rather than a result of

worker demands. If people in the industry decided that executives were not worth the

money that they earn, it is up to them to lower their pay.

Pay Should Reflect Performance

Now that is has been established that CEOs deserve their paychecks, it is time to examine

problems with the system. It is not perfect, but for that matter, neither is anything else.

One major setback is the fact that most wages are not representative of the productivity of

that employee. Whether a worker is a model employee who is very prolific, or a poor

worker who is unproductive, they still are given the same treatment by a companies far as

pay is concerned. This can lead to a business losing vast amounts of money, while the

CEO fills his pockets with money. For example, Varity Corporation was a business that

was once one of Canada’s biggest and highest profiting companies. However, it struggled

greatly during the eighties, and lost money most years. That did not stop its chairman

Victor Rice from earning “more than $1-million in annual compensation”.3 This is clearly

an abuse of power. If an employee is allowed to continuously do a poor job, while still

benefiting from his job, then there is little reason for them to attempt and do a good job.

In the case of Victor Rice, there was obviously no correlation between the quality of his

work, and the pay that he received. If he did such a bad job though, then how come he

still had a job. This answer to this is one that affects many businesses. Many times it

actually costs a company more to get rid of an unwanted employee, than it would to keep

them on as a worker. “When Paul Stern stepped down as CEO of Northern Telecom last

year, he left with $164,112 for two months of employment, a cash compensation package

totaling $6 million and another $1.5 million in stock options.”4 The reason for this is that

many times, when a position such as CEO come into play, a contract is written up. That

means that the worker is supposed to be with the company for a certain amount of time.

If this time period is cut short, then that is a breach of their contract. By law, they must be

compensated for their removal from the company. This may cause a business to hold onto

an employee that is unwanted, because it is such a hassle to get rid of them.

One solution is to make a direct connection between the amount of money that a person is

paid, and the quality of work that the person does. This would not only put pressure on

that individual to do a good job, but it would also give them incentive to produce more.

The best possible way to implement this would be to start people off with a low base

salary, and award large bonuses for any goals that they meet. Right now, there are many

hard working employees. They appear to be putting their full effort into their job.

However, it is amazing to see how much more can be done when monetary awards are on

the line. It may mean the difference between an employee staying focused on his job and

making his business successful, rather than an employee slipping a little bit and forcing his

company to lose money. This technique of linking pay to performance is practiced often

in countries such as Germany, but is discouraged in place such as America and Japan.

This is definitely a policy that should be considered in countries across the world.


It has been established that top executives do make a lot of money. It has also been

established that they deserve the money that they receive is well deserved. These

employees are making important decisions everyday. They are under a tremendous

amount of pressure to succeed. It is their job to make sure that large corporations. Their

jobs are arguably some of the most important in the world. This certainly allows them to

be presented with such large salaries.

There are a few steps, however, that can be taken to regulate the salaries that are

executives are paid. This is necessary because only the select workers that do their job on

a superior level deserve the high amount of money that they get.

1. Give employees a base salary, and award bonuses on top of that for any profitable

work done by that employee. This would not only give them a reason to bring their work

up to a premium level, but also create a distinction between those employees who are

successful, and the ones who are not. This would also serve as a way to weed out those

employees who can’t cut it.

2. In order to guarantee that workers are paid based on performance, there needs to be

more legislature passed to put restrictions on method of salary payment. Right now,

Clinton gives a tax break for the companies that pay their employees based on how they

do their job, but even those who do not are able to find ways, through the use of

accountants, to get such tax breaks. There must be stricter laws in place, with no


3. The world on a whole, should agree on a standard level of pay for executives. It is not

fair that people in countries other than the US, receive 1/3 of the pay, for doing the same

job. This would help to give the executives around the globe, the amount that they should

be getting.

4. It should be easier for a corporation to get rid of an unwanted employee. Right now,

many are tied into contracts that require a large sum of money be paid if the employee is

released early. There needs to be escape clauses if that employee performs lower than

expectations. This will keep only the best employees running businesses, meaning that

these companies will be more successful.

If all of these ideas were implemented, then the world of high paid executives would run

smoothly, without and controversy, or dispute concerning amount of pay.


1. “Rich-Baiting Time,” National Review, 62 May 5, 1996

2. “Random Numbers,” Maclean’s, 42 May 9, 1994

3. “Giving Capitalism An Obscene Reputation,” 35 May 9, 1994

4. “On The Right,” Economist 62 June 3,1995

1. “Rich-Baiting Time,” National Review, 62 May 5, 1996

2. “Random Numbers,” Maclean’s, 42 May 9, 1994

3. “Giving Capitalism An Obscene Reputation,” 35 May 9, 1994

4. “On The Right,” Economist 62 June 3,1995

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