Fast Company’s CEO Fair Pay Report: See how much corporate leaders make compared with their employees
From fiery speeches on union picket lines to pointed shareholder resolutions, criticism of CEO pay packages has taken on new urgency in 2023, even as the gap between the salaries at the top and bottom of the corporate ladder has continued to grow. How outlandish have CEO salaries gotten? Can they ever be reined in?
Thanks to an SEC rule first implemented in 2017, public companies in the U.S. are required to submit information about the ratio between their CEO’s salary and the median salary of their workers. But these numbers are often buried deep in their financial filings, so Fast Company is making it easy to compare CEO-to-worker pay here in our first-ever CEO Fair Pay Report.
To compile and understand the data, we partnered with MyLogIQ, an SEC compliance and disclosure intelligence company, to create a searchable database of 2022 pay information for the companies in the Russell 3000 Index, which includes the largest 3,000 corporations in the U.S. More than 2,000 of these publicly-traded companies have filed their paperwork with the SEC so far this year, and you can look them up in the database below.
You’ll find everyone from tech CEOs like Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, who this year made 91 times his median employee’s salary of $296,320, to Urban Outfitters’s Richard Hayne, whose reported pay for 2022 was $55,462 (versus $16,378 for his median employee). You can even find Jeffrey Liaw and Jayson Adair, co-CEOs of auto-auction company Copart, who have a CEO pay gap of their own: Liaw made $31 million last year; Adair made $265,000. And then there are well-known executives like Tesla’s Elon Musk and Block’s Jack Dorsey who have chosen to take $1 in salary—though this is often because they have already received huge, upfront compensation in the form of stock.
So, who are the most exorbitantly paid CEOs in America, and which executives are, by comparison, modestly paid? We have broken out more details about pay packages of the 15 most fairly paid CEOs and the 15 least fairly paid CEOs.
The question of what fair actually means when it comes to CEO pay is incredibly complicated (this essay can help formulate some answers) and the data pulled together here reflects a single moment in time. That’s an important distinction: Unlike most workers, CEOs often don’t have to work many hours to start earning big bucks.
Don’t shed any tears for the lowest-paid CEOs, because many of them received generous stock bonuses in previous fiscal years and are already billionaires, despite showing a degree of modesty in their most recent filings. On the flip side, executives with eye-popping pay in this latest round of filings tip the scales in large part because this is their year to reap those huge stock payouts.
We should also share a note about how the median worker’s pay is calculated: Some companies employ many seasonal workers—or workers overseas—both of which can be factored into the median employee’s reported salary. With these caveats in mind, we hope you’ll find this report and the list below helps you to better understand the state of CEO pay in Corporate America right now. If you are a worker at one of these companies, a consumer of its products or services, or merely curious about the largest employers in your community, type in a company name below and see how its CEO—as well as its median worker—is doing.