Pay and bonuses: we need to know more

In Norway, the income and tax paid by every citizen is on the web. Perhaps the UK isn’t quite ready for the Norwegian system, but how can there be a proper debate about pay, tax and bonuses if we don’t know what anyone gets?

We now know that Network Rail bosses are not taking their bonus. And we know that Goldman Sachs bankers are said to get £1/4m on average. Shouldn’t we also know at least the ratio of highest compensation to lowest compensation (and to the average) within any organisation? The Network Rail Sustainability Report does not mention the issue of pay, except to talk about how much its staff are giving to charity as if Network Rail had given it.

We should start with this kind of transparency for all organisations in which the state has a controlling stake. Isn’t this one of the things that being a stakeholder is supposed to be all about?

1 reply on “Pay and bonuses: we need to know more”

You ask: “how can there be a proper debate about pay, tax and bonuses if we don’t know what anyone gets? And why are so many CSR reports silent on the issue?”

I suggest that CSR reports and responsibility claims which are not supported by plain disclosure on some of these basic responsibility issues beg the question: is this company truly responsible, or is it seeking licence to operate to continue with ‘business as usual’.

This was one of the themes of an article I wrote for the Guardian in November which considered a surprising speech made by Bob Diamond of Barclays a few weeks prior.

In short, to be credible, to command greater public trust and respect, businesses need to grasp the nettle of admitting that offloading costs onto society and the environment and exploiting stakeholders can be highly profitable. Having made this first step, they can then explain how they mean to stop pursuing such short term strategies and help create a more socially just and ecologically sustainable economy.

If they can’t or won’t be truly accountable in these ways, it would be in everyone’s best interest if they stopped pretending otherwise. Carry on with Business as Usual if you must, but please don’t dress it up as something else.

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