CEOs Claim Big Pay Days in 2011 Amidst Controversy

Despite current controversy over executive pay, recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show that companies continue to hand out large compensation packages to their CEOs. Many top executives are now making upward of $50 million annually according to the publication. The companies justify the big payouts by saying it’s simply a cost of doing business and it’s necessary to attract and retain talent in their upper ranks, but other experts disagree.

USA Today quoted University of Toronto business school dean and author of Fixing the Game: Bubbles, Crashes, and What Capitalism Can Learn from the NFL, Roger Martin, who said, “Corporate boards are tone deaf to the times, as are CEOs who justify this much compensation. Companies are fooling themselves if they say this is what’s required to retain or attract talent.” Eleanor Bloxham, head of corporate watchdog the Value Alliance said, “These kinds of things go on because too few people, especially institutional shareholders, are saying no,” per USA Today.

Big earning CEOs in 2011 include Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) Tim Cook who claimed $378 million in total compensation, Qualcomm’s (NASDAQ:QCOM) Paul Jacobs at $50.6 million, Tyco International’s (NYSE:TYC) Ed Breen bringing in $68.9 million, JCPenney’s (NYSE:JCP) Ron Johnson with $51.5 million, and recent new comers to the $50 million plus club, Disney’s (NYSE:DIS) Robert Iger and Starbuck’s (NASDAQ:SBUX) Howard Schultz. Iger’s newly negotiated contract with Disney increases his base salary 43% to at least $50 million annually through 2015. USA Today quoted a statement by Disney that says the new contract is intended to “secure access to Iger’s leadership and experience for an extended period and to provide a path to succession with a smooth transition of his duties and responsibilities.”