Executive pay reform now at the table

Businessman with $100 bills in suit jacket pocket.

TEXT OF STORY

Bob Moon: The writing is on the wall, and it seems Corporate America has read it. When the Group of 20 economic powers meets in Pittsburgh this week, executive compensation will be among the top items on the agenda. This, as the Federal Reserve works on a plan we told you about last week, to restrict pay packages at thousands of banks. Now, a leading business group is proposing its own compensation reforms and our New York Bureau Chief Amy Scott has details.


AMY SCOTT: AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, and Tyco are among the companies supporting the proposed reforms.

The Conference Board, a nonprofit business group, is recommending that companies tie compensation to long-term performance, eliminate excessive golden parachutes and severance pay, and improve board oversight.

Bob Denham is co-chair of the task force that wrote the guidelines.

He says the business world knows that if it wants to continue to use compensation to attract talent, it has to change its ways.

BOB DENHAM: There's a very real desire to show that Corporate America can do compensation responsibly, effectively, in a disciplined way.

LYNN STOUT: It's the same reason the beer industry cautions drinkers to know when to say when. They would rather have the drinkers decide than the government.

That's Lynn Stout. She teaches corporate and securities law at UCLA. With U.S. and European regulators looking at reigning in compensation, she says the private sector wants to beat them to the punch.

Graef Crystal writes the Crystal Report on Executive Compensation. He says voluntary guidelines might help. But he says Goldman Sachs is on track to pay billions of dollars in bonuses again this year.

GRAEF CRYSTAL: I think that if they go ahead and pay wild bonuses, whether they defer some of them or not, they're going to bring the temple down on everyone's head.

Wall Street's main trade association supports the Conference Board guidelines, as does Nasdaq. But so far no banks have signed on.

In New York, I'm Amy Scott for Marketplace.

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.

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