Company CEOs are known to be paid obscene amounts, with their wages often making the news, particularly during difficult times for their company or industry. Often the CEOs are earning hundreds of thousands, if not millions, more than their employees, particularly in traditionally unskilled industries like fast food and factory work.
Wage gaps between the CEO and employees can demotivate workers, leading them to feel like they are not fairly paid for the work they do. A new study by careers board Lensa has taken a deep-dive into the salaries of the CEOs of countries around the world, and compared them to the median salary of employees in that country.
Countries with the biggest CEO wage gaps:
Greece is the country with the biggest CEO wage gap, with CEOs receiving a pay 791% higher than the national average. Despite paying a lower CEO salary of $242,312, the average salary in Greece is $27,207, resulting in such a large wage gap. The UK was in second place, with a wage gap of 759%. CEOs in the UK are paid $405,219 on average, whilst the median salary is $47,147. In third place was Italy, with a wage gap of 703%. In Italy, workers earn 12% of what their CEO is paid, with an average salary of $37,769 – compared to a CEO salary of $303,282.
Germany and France rounded out the top five, making it all European countries with the biggest wage disparity between CEOs and their employees. In Germany, CEOs are paid 622% more than their employees, whilst in France, the gap is 604%. Other countries in the top 10 included Japan (530%), USA (519%) and the Netherlands (485%).
Countries with the highest paid CEOs:
Moving onto the countries with the highest paid CEOS, it is unsurprisingly the USA in first place – with an average CEO salary of $429,663, or an hourly rate of $207. The UK was in second place with an average CEO wage of $405,219, or $195 per hour. In third place was Germany, where CEOs are paid $387,928 or $187. Netherlands and Switzerland were in fourth and fifth place, with average CEO salaries of £344,294 and $324,600 respectively. With the exception of the USA and Canada ( which was in ninth place), the top 10 countries with the highest paid CEOs were all in Europe.
The study also looked at the top 100 companies in the USA to reveal which have the highest paid CEOs, and the biggest wage gap between those at the top and their employees.
In terms of the highest-paid CEOs, Comcast’s CEO, Brian L. Roberts came first, earning a salary of $3.44m. Comcast is based in Philadelphia and owns several hugely successful media businesses such as Sky Group, NBC Universal, and DreamWorks Animation. Brian L. Roberts is estimated to be worth $1.8bn overall, so his Comcast salary only makes up a small proportion of his earnings. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook was in second place, with a base salary of $3m. Similarly, Viacom’s CEO, Robert M. Bakish earned $3m per year. However, whilst Tim Cook is said to be worth $1.4bn, Robert M. Bakish’s net worth pales in comparison, at $25.5m, showing that he is more likely to rely on his CEO salary than Tim Cook.
Next, Lensa’s study looked at wage gaps between CEOs and their staff. In first place, with a frankly astounding gap of 14,007%, was Coca-Cola’s CEO, James Quincey. Quincey’s annual salary is $1.6m, whilst the average employee for the company earns just $11,342 – a wage gap of over $1.5m. Quincey first joined the business in 1996 and was named CEO in 2016.
By comparison, the CEO with the smallest wage gap was Tesla’s Elon Musk, with a wage gap of minus -59%. Musk was the only CEO in Lensa’s study to take a smaller salary than an employee, at $23,760, compared to the median employee wage of $58,455. However, it’s important to note that Musk’s net worth currently sits at an astronomical $271 billion.
You can see the full results of the study here: https://lensa.com/insights/ceo-wage-gap/