CEO pay increased by 39% in 2021 – the reaction

Greater broadcast coverage of HPC’s annual CEO pay report than in recent years; findings prompt Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham to call for a cap on top pay

This year’s HPC review of executive pay in the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250, showed CEO pay rising in 2021 to a level greater than prior to the pandemic.

In the context of a growing cost of living crisis, and the biggest drop in real terms pay for UK workers since modern records began in 2001, the substantial growth in CEO pay is particularly striking. The findings received widespread coverage across national media outlets, as well as a significant amount of coverage in the international press.

National newspapers including the Times, Guardian, Daily Mail, Mirror and the I all covered the report. HPC spokespeople were also interviewed on a number of tv and radio shows including Good Morning Britain, Sky News, Radio 4 Today Programme, BBC World News and Talk TV’s breakfast show. Besides interviewing HPC Director Luke Hildyard, Good Morning Britain featured segments contrasting the good fortune of CEOs with the struggles of people accessing foodbanks, and the topic was also debated by the show’s regular guest commentators Grace Blakley and Andrew Pierce.

Good Morning Britain coverage of the report including interview with Luke Hildyard

In recent days, Mayor of Greater Manchester has published an OpEd in the Mirror and been interviewed on broadcast media including BBC, ITV and Channel 4 arguing for the capping or reducing of the pay of high earners in order to fund pay rises for low and middle income earners. Burnham’s comments echo the High Pay Centre’s views expressed by Luke Hildyard in an opinion piece for the I, which also highlighted how capping executive pay could be a means towards increasing worker pay.

The response from the media and politicians to our research shows that many people are drawing a connection between top pay and the pay of the rest of the workforce in a way that has rarely been so directly acknowledged in recent years. If the gap between CEO and worker pay grows even further next year, then it is quite possible that calls for redistributing pay from high to lower earners might become a major talking point in the run up to the next election.

Luke Hildyard discussing the report on Sky News