Say on Pay Getting Strong Support from Tech Shareholders

To traditional corporate views, say on pay -- or the ability for shareholders to have a direct say on executive compensation -- is anathema. But shareholder initiatives are coming up in an increasing number of annual meetings at tech companies, and chances are that more than one will ultimately end up joining Apple in having stockholders closely reviewing top management pay.

What makes this significant for corporate management is the level of support it is getting from major investor forces. Some of the big drivers are union pension funds that are strongly pushing for limitations on executive pay, which is not so surprising given that their members could already be sensitive to often-reported differences between executive and worker pay. Adding fuel to the fire is that the pension funds have seen values of stock holdings plummet, largely without an accompanying drop in executive compensation.

For example, CalSTRS, the California state teach pension fund and AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Also supporting the notion of late has been the SEC itself.

No publicly-held companies are immune to the issue. Some high tech companies that have recently dealt with say on pay include the following:

Even a no vote, if large enough, is no comfort to boards and management teams. Last fall, only 29 percent of Oracle's shareholders voted in favor of a say-on-pay proposal. And yet, that was seen as sending a "signal of discontent" to the company's board of directors.

Coin image via stock.xchng user lusi, standard site license. --

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