When Do Shareholders Care About CEO Pay?

The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation 2013-09-06


Editor's Note: Matteo Tonello is managing director of corporate leadership at The Conference Board. This post relates to an issue of The Conference Board’s Director Notes series authored by Ryan Krause, Kimberly A. Whitler, and Matthew Semadeni.

With recent legislation mandating that publicly traded corporations submit CEO compensation for a nonbinding shareholder vote, a systematic understanding of how shareholders vote under such circumstances has never been so important. Using simulated say-on-pay votes, this post investigates how different levels of CEO pay and company performance can interact to influence how shareholders vote.

In July of 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which, among other things, mandated that all publicly traded U.S. corporations solicit a non-binding advisory vote from their shareholders to approve or reject the compensation of the most highly compensated executives, commonly referred to as “say-on-pay” (SOP) votes. In the short time since the passage of Dodd-Frank, these votes have already made waves. In 2011, the shareholders of Stanley Black and Decker issued a “no” vote, and the board subsequently lowered the CEO’s pay by 63 percent, raised the minimum officer stock requirements, altered its severance agreements to be less CEO friendly, and ended the practice of staggered board terms. [1]

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practitioner publications boards of directors corporate elections & voting matteo tonello the conference board executive compensation pay for performance dodd-frank act management say on pay shareholder voting matthew semadeni ryan krause kimberly whitler


Matteo Tonello, The Conference Board,

Date tagged:

09/06/2013, 12:50

Date published:

09/06/2013, 08:58