New director for the High Pay Centre

By 26.03.18BlogAugust 28th, 2020No Comments

Exciting news – after Easter our former colleague Luke Hildyard will be returning to take over as director from Stefan Stern, who is stepping down after two and a half years

I am delighted to announce that Luke Hildyard, currently policy lead for stewardship and corporate governance at the pensions and lifetime savings association (PLSA), and formerly deputy director of the High Pay Centre, is coming back to the High Pay Centre to take over as director from April 5.

I could not be happier to be handing over to Luke, who has been one of the most important contributors to the ongoing debate over executive pay in this country in recent years. Indeed, in his earlier period at the High Pay Centre it was Luke who came up with the idea of the Fat Cat Day campaign, which continues to command a lot of attention every January and which sets the agenda for discussion through the year.

It has been a great pleasure and privilege to have worked as director over the past two and a half years. Deborah Hargreaves, our founder, has of course been a very hard act to follow. It was the underlying strength of this organisation, built up by Deborah’s work over many years, which ensured our survival even when the funding outlook has been uncertain.

I would like to thank our chair Nick Isles and all other trustees past and present for their support and encouragement. Our new partnership with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has been a great source of strength over the past year. And I am grateful too for the loyal support of the HPC’s many friends.

You will be hearing a lot more from Luke in the weeks and months to come, but for now he adds: “The High Pay Centre has been incredibly successful under Deborah and Stefan making the argument for reforms such as the publication of pay ratios and worker representation in corporate governance structures. In the coming years it will be more necessary than ever to have a strong, independent voice ensuring that these reforms are properly implemented, and holding companies to account over their governance, culture and pay practices. I hope we can continue to play a part in this work at HPC.”

Where now for the High Pay agenda?

I have never been a great fan of roller-coasters, and the ups and downs (and twists and turns) of the past two years in the executive pay world have largely confirmed me in that view. With the publication of Paul Marsland’s brilliant paper “Pay Ratios – Just Do It” in November 2015 the High Pay Centre completed a powerful and evidence-based case for reform. The next two years saw a great deal of political turbulence. A key moment was Theresa May’s Conservative leadership campaign speech given in Birmingham in July 2016. While current government proposals fall quite a long way short of the radical proposals made in that speech, we should acknowledge that the current administration has built on the reforms led by Vince Cable in 2013 and has gone further than previous governments, not least in requiring the pay ratio between company CEOs and their average UK employee to be published. Mrs May and her former adviser Nick Timothy have shown courage on this point, which has discomfited some natural Conservative party supporters in business.

This is just a first step towards a more fundamental reform of the broken executive pay system in this country. This year Luke will be leading some important new research (with the CIPD) on the role of remuneration committees, generously funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable trust. The pressure for more widespread reform must and will be kept up.

The problem of excessive pay at the top has taken decades to develop and will not be solved quickly. But with your support the High Pay Centre will continue to play a central role in these matters. Thank you again for your help and support over the past two and a half years.

Stefan Stern