More than 40 executives at three
of New Zealand's top companies now earn more than $1 million
a year, and one of the country's top bosses has taken a swipe
at CEOs' salaries.
Former New Zealander of the Year and television host Ian
Taylor - now considered one of the country's most astute
business people - says he can no longer remain silent on the
debate around executives' salaries.
"As a CEO of a privately owned company, I have not taken a
pay rise for 10 years and I currently share my salary with my
wife, who works fulltime in the company without pay," said Mr
Taylor, founder and CEO of Animation Research in Dunedin.
"I have made a personal commitment to remain on that salary
until I am satisfied every person working with me is paid
what they are worth."
Mr Taylor's comments come as the New Zealand Herald
today reveals that 41 executives at Fonterra, Telecom and
Fletcher Building earn more than $1 million a year. The
number has more than tripled in a decade, and sparked debate
over their level of pay.
Former Telecom chief Paul Reynolds was paid $12.7 million in
the last financial year. Fonterra's Andrew Ferrier received
$8.2 million and Fletcher's Jonathan Ling $2.4 million.
Pay surveys released mid-year showed the median annual base
salary for CEOs and managing directors rose by $28,311 to
$315,000 this year - a jump of nearly 10 per cent.
Mr Taylor said a CEO's remuneration "should be measured by
how well he or she protects jobs and should bear a direct
relationship to how well the employees ... are paid".
In a letter to the Herald, he referred to a comment last week
by former Nuplex chairman Fred Holland, who, when referring
to a 26 per cent rise for non-executive directors, said: "You
won't get anything but monkeys if you pay peanuts."
Mr Taylor said: "If that means I have joined our fellow
primates in his eyes then I know who I would rather spend my
time with: Them and the countless other CEOs and management
of small New Zealand companies who still live in the real
Mr Taylor's business, established in 1990, is considered to
be one of the top computer animation companies in the
country. In 2010, he was made an honorary fellow of the New
Zealand Computer Society. The year before that he was
inducted into the Technology Hall of Fame.
Mr Taylor is a former presenter of children's programme Spot
On and New Zealand's Funniest Home Videos.
Shareholders Association chairman John Hawkins said Mr
Taylor's comments were admirable.
"We don't disagree with some aspects of that. We have
suggested to CEOs a range of pay that is reasonable in our
view. We also want to link it to company performance.
"What we struggle with is when CEOs' pay gets massively out
of kilter with everyone else's."
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union leader Bill
Newson said Mr Taylor's stance was laudable.
"While we're not saying all CEOs got that [nearly 10 per cent
median CEO pay increase], the evidence, based on the
averages, is that CEO salaries do need to be linked closer to
what their employees are getting - or the other way around.
We would welcome the other way around."