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CEOs sacrifice salaries to show solidarity

While there are endless stories about tech tycoons like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos making even vaster fortunes as a result of Covid-19, the CEOs sharing the pain alongside their workers have received less publicity.



As a result, new research which delves into which industry chiefs have given up at least part, if not all, of their salaries to help their businesses and employees during 2020 makes for fascinating reading.



Ralph Lauren, Executive Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of his namesake organisation, is among those making the biggest sacrifices, giving up both his 2020 bonus and fiscal 2021 salary, which equates to around $11 million, according to new data compiled by people management organisation Impact International.



Disney’s Executive Chairman Bob Iger walked the walk, giving up his salary for a year. The company’s CEO, Bob Chapek, has taken a 50% cut, while its executive-level staff will take 30% cuts. While Disney has suffered from its theme parks closing, the company has enjoyed huge success with its streaming platform, Disney+, which currently has 10 million subscribers.



Leaders in the hard hit aviation and hospitality businesses are also leading by example: the three Airbnb founders have given up their salaries for six months, as has Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian, while Heathrow Airport’s John Holland-Kay will only accept 25% of his pay. Arne Sorenson of Marriott announced in March he would be forgoing his salary for the rest of 2020 and that his senior executives would be taking a 50% pay cut. Online travel provider Booking Holdings CEO Glen Fogal, meanwhile, is halving his salary. John Zimmer and Logan Green of Lyft, and Mark Hoplamazian from Hyatt Airlines, made smaller contributions of one month of their salaries.



Overall, among the CEOs who have agreed to sacrifice their base salary, four out of 10 had given up all of it, and a third gave up 50% to 99%. A total of 32% of bosses who sacrificed their salaries were from the aviation and hospitality industries.

While the gesture is undoubtedly well meant, cynics will argue that CEOs do of course typically have the far greater compensation of bonuses and other perks to rely on – it’s unlikely newly redundant workers will be feeling too thankful.



Read Impact International’s blog here.

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