The think tank Compass has launched its High Pay Commission, following the securing of funding both from supporters and from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.
The Commission has issued a call for evidence, today publishing opinion polling research demonstrating that the public consistently under-estimates the dimensions of executive pay. At a time when there is a yawning remuneration gap between the pay of executives of large companies and everyone else charged with responsibility as being the engine of economic re-growth, when top executives give themselves rewards equivalent to the pay of 128 of their employees (a figure which itself is nearly three times what it was a decade ago), and when executive pay is rising much faster than the performance of their companies, this is a good time to consider the realities of executive pay. It’s not a question of envy, but it is a question of establishing fairness, as the Commission Chair, Deborah Hargreaves, succinctly and astutely pointed out in her blog post.
The Commission will run for one year. Its approach is open and it seeks to engage, including amongst those the target of its work, and to explore the impact on society of such a differential approach to reward as currently exists. If at the end it has managed to produce workable proposals for controlling the outlandish, unwarranted and inexplicable rise in rewards at executive level in the private sector within the Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism – and I hope it does – it will have made an extremely useful contribution not only to the fairness agenda but also to the notion of how market-based approaches to pay essentially distort the decisions our society makes about the direction and locus of economic growth. Given the reasons for the economic crisis, evaluating those is absolutely timely.