Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

When CEO’s Earn 5,000 Times as Much as a Company’s Workers


Mattel is one of the largest toy-making companies on earth. Turns out it’s one of the biggest manufacturers of income inequality, too.

Last year, the Barbie doll manufacturer paid its CEO nearly 5,000 times as much as its median worker.

This stunning revelation is the result of a new regulation that requires U.S. publicly held corporations to report their CEO-worker pay ratios to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mattel’s gap is the widest reported so far. But most other big U.S. companies also have staggering divides. According to a new report by the staff of Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, the first 225 large corporations to release their numbers had pay ratios averaging 339 to 1.

“This immense inequality is a crisis for our economy and our democracy,” said Ellison, a longtime advocate of pay gap disclosure.

What’s good for these CEOs, however, is actually bad for business.

A CNBC analysis of the new pay ratio data, for example, suggests that companies with large pay disparities have lower profits per employee.

Why might that be? According to a recent study by a Harvard Business professor, companies tend to perform poorly if workers feel they’re not paid fairly. The study’s author said workers who feel that way are likely to lack motivation and even quit their jobs.

It’s not hard to understand how it could put a damper on your morale to be working hard and struggling to get by while your boss is being rewarded hundreds — or even thousands — of times more than you on payday.

Doug Smith, a former partner at the big McKinsey management consulting firm, argues that the economic costs of huge pay gaps go far beyond the problems of low employee morale and high turnover.

“Instead of building a real economy beneficial to all,” Smith says, “these unethical pay practices spread outsourcing, offshoring, tax avoidance, downsizing, and the substitution of good-paying permanent jobs with temporary, precarious employment.”

There’s a growing movement to use the new pay ratio data to encourage corporations to narrow their gaps. Portland, Oregon will soon become the first city to impose a tax penalty on companies with pay gaps above 100 to 1.

Charlie Hales, Portland’s mayor when the law was passed in late 2016, argued that it made good business sense to encourage narrower gaps.

In a former job at an employee-owned engineering firm, Hales had seen firsthand how a small pay ratio boosted the bottom line. “Everyone worked a little harder because your success was my success,” Hales said. “And that egalitarian culture led to a strong work ethic that drove the corporation to success.”

With the new pay ratio data now coming out, lawmakers in six states — California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Rhode Island — are considering Portland-style pay ratio taxes.

Narrowing the divides within U.S. corporations may not automatically leave us all whistling away while we work. But we’ll all pay a price if we keep fiddling while extreme inequality burns down our economy.

More articles by:

Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Wim Laven
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
David Yearsley
Shock-and-Awe Inside Oracle Arena
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail