Is Media Portrayal of Executive Pay Fair?

Last Thursday Yahoo announced that they will hire Google’s Marissa Mayer as their fifth CEO in as many years (The Kings article here). It is estimated that Mayer’s total package will be $60 million over the next several years.

There has been a lot of conversation surrounding the move with regards to whether the media equally portrays a social media executive vs. a similarly paid Wall Street executive. Imagine one of the BB CEOs being offered a similar package when the company they are hired to run is underperforming and the stock is consistently going lower. Watching and reading coverage about Mayer, the spin was for the most part is very positive regarding her past at Google, her accomplishments, etc.

When trying to take an unbiased point of view, what comes to mind is that a search engine website has never lost anyone’s savings or wiped out 401k plans due to inappropriate hedging or overexposure to a certain volatile currency like financial institutions have. So from this perspective I can see where Wall Street pay critics get their distaste when reporting on finance exec pay. However, I believe that pay needs to be looked at based on the individual and not always have the media commentary be based on sentiment of a certain industry.

How do you all feel? Is the media biased when it comes to executive pay based on the industry that the executive is in? Perhaps the female factor plays a role?

Comments (3)

Jul 24, 2012 - 5:43am

Read The media definitely does not give non-finance execs a free ride, and at the end of the day it matters a lot more what shareholders think than the media. Bottom line is, being a public NEO is tough, especially considering you can almost always make more in PE.

Jul 24, 2012 - 9:59am

Finance is the media's whipping so yeah, any bank executive is going to get heat just because of that. The thing with the media is that the average person is the target audience so they play to thos sympathies. It's very strange, but media/technology companies often get a pass, but consider that the media reporting on itself is a bit of a conflict of interest...

Personally, I think companies would benefit if CEOs were paid largely based on what they do for the company over a period of time: Vikram Pandit is a perfect example of a guy who I think should be paid MORE this year. Unless a CEO turns a company around, builds it up in a massive way, or is a founder with an equity stake...I really have no idea why they are paid so much more than the legion of other employees, many of whom would be able to do the same job. Humans are not too far removed from simian behavior in many more ways than they are often comfortable admitting to themselves, so maybe that reinforces the heirarchy?

As for this lady, she has a lot of challenges ahead of her and I hope she does well.

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