There's no easy way to talk about CEO pay. But Tony Stark GIFs are a good start.

They may be paid like Tony Stark. But they're no Tony Stark.

In 2014, CEOs of the top 350 U.S. firms made 303 times more than their average workers.

Chart by Economic Policy Institute.


First of all, are we talking about hundreds of Tony Starks? Are we dealing with f**king Ironmen? Because payouts like that could make sense if they're saving the world like everyone's favorite "genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist."

In Stark we trust. All GIFs from "Iron Man 2."

But they're not. There are no arc reactors MacGyvered in desert caves to keep their hearts beating. No flying armored suits with rocket-propelled, evil-seeking missiles.

These are just regular human people who happen to make tons of money.

They're the ones steering the companies that source our groceries, genetically modify our foods, pipe in our oil and gas, throttle our Internet service, drape us in sweatshop denim, and invest in ways to keep society more or less the same: unequal. Among other things, of course.

Why do we pay them so much?

It's not all a matter of choice, some might say. It's the market at work. And the ultimate payouts are just the costs of top talent.

That's what they all say. But again, they're not all Tony Stark.

But in the Harvard Business Review, John Mackey, co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods, suggests we need to rethink how CEOs are rewarded:

"A bias to focus only on the external market in recent years has helped push executive compensation way out of whack. Because of the yawning gap between the leaders and the led, employee morale is suffering, talented performers' loyalty is evaporating, and strategy and execution is suffering at American companies."

Mackey says Whole Foods uses salary caps to "keep the external and internal equity perspectives in balance." Today, the company's salary cap ratio is 19:1.

Maybe you're thinking, "These CEOs run the nation's largest companies, so maybe they deserve a pass?"

True. They run huge companies with a lot at stake. But the fact that they lead the largest companies is precisely why they matter most on this issue.

"The reason to focus on the CEO pay of the largest firms is that they employ a large number of workers, are the leaders of the business community, and set the standards for pay in the executive pay market." — Economic Policy Institute

These folks are the spearhead of rising income inequality. The Economic Policy Institute found that 41.2% of people who are heads of households in the top 1% are executives or high-level managers.

If their pay packages look like they've been struck by elephantiasis...

"Oh my god, is that elephantiasis?!" No, Tony. That's just an outsized pay package.

...that's going to affect how a lot of other companies pay their leadership.

All of this might be a non-issue if all workers received a fair and living wage, which they should.

But they don't. Until they do, to anyone who argues that top CEOs deserve 303 times their average workers' salaries, Tony and I have only this to say:

More
via James Anderson

Two years ago, a tweet featuring the invoice for a fixed boiler went viral because the customer, a 91-year-old woman with leukemia, received the services for free.

"No charge for this lady under any circumstances," the invoice read. "We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible."

The repair was done by James Anderson, 52, a father-of-five from Burnley, England. "James is an absolute star, it was overwhelming to see that it cost nothing," the woman's daughter told CNN.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
LUSH

Handmade cosmetics company Lush is putting its money where its mouth is and taking a bold step for climate change action.

On September 20 in the U.S. and September 27 in Canada, Lush will shut the doors of its 250 shops, e-commerce sites, manufacturing facilities, and headquarters for a day, in solidarity with the Global Climate Strike taking place around the world. Lush is encouraging its 5000+ employees "to join this critical movement and take a stand until global leaders are forced to face the climate crisis and enact change."

Keep Reading Show less
Planet
Photo by Annie Bolin on Unsplash

Recent tragic mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton have sparked a lot of conversation and action on the state level over the issue of gun control. But none may be as encouraging as the most recent one, in which 145 CEOs signed a letter urging the U.S. Senate to take action at their level.

Keep Reading Show less
popular