Run A Publicly-Owned Company, Deal With The Public’s Outrage

In a debate over his exorbitant compensation, WPP shareholders are giving Sir Martin Sorrell fits.

Sorrell’s current compensation package amounts to $40 million (in U.S. dollars), a 60% boost from last year.

According to Financial Times, three of the top 10 WPP shareholders, which own about 10 per cent of the company’s shares, say they will vote against the board remuneration policies at WPP’s annual meeting on June 13.

“He is a good chief executive, but not that good,” says one top 10 shareholder. “When many people are struggling to simply hold on to their jobs, a pay rise of 60 per cent looks excessive in the extreme.”

Naturally, this debate has Sorrell’s hackles up. “I find the controversy over my compensation deeply disturbing. The board’s compensation decisions are right because they reward performance, not failure,” Sorrell opined in FT.

Personally, I like to see CEOs limit their pay to a factor of ten over their company’s lowest paid employees. In WPP’s case, I imagine they pay various clerical staff about $30,000/year. Which means Sorrell’s mountain of gold take home pay is well over 1000 times greater than his lowest paid staffers.

Does Sorrell work 1000 times harder, and do a job that’s 1000 times more difficult and important? I doubt it.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.