London: The chief executive officers of Britain’s biggest companies saw an above-inflation pay boost last year but still earned less than before the pandemic, according to a report published Tuesday.
Median pay for FTSE 100 CEOs increased 16 per cent to 3.91 million pounds ($5 million) from the previous year, research by the High Pay Centre think tank showed. That’s still 70,000 pounds short of pay packages seen in 2017.
The analysis comes amid a cost-of-living crisis that’s prompted staff in many sectors to go on strike. The HPC said that CEOs earned 118 times as much as the average worker last year.
The report also follows criticism that the UK has become a less attractive place to do business and is losing companies to the US and Asia. London Stock Exchange CEO Julia Hoggett argued earlier this year that British executives should be paid more to encourage companies to remain in the UK.
The majority of companies in the FTSE 100 stock index boosted CEO pay last year. Oil giant BP, military contractor BAE Systems and British Gas owner Centrica awarded their bosses the largest increases. Pascal Soriot, the CEO of pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca Plc, was the highest-paid FTSE 100 chief executive, earning 15.32 pounds million.
Still, pay cuts for executives were more common than the year before. Almost 40 of the UK’s top 100 companies lowered executive pay, an increase from only a quarter in 2021.
Only 4 per cent of FTSE 100 companies didn’t hand their CEO a bonus in 2022, compared with 13 per cent the previous year. The mean bonus payment decreased by 24,000 pounds to 1.4 million pounds.
The pay gap between executives and workers is widening. FTSE 100 CEOs earned 118 times more than the median full-time worker in 2022. For comparison, that ratio used to be 108 in 2021. It’s still below 2018 levels when the top 100 CEOs made 123 times more than median workers.
“An economic model that prioritizes a half a million pound pay rise for executives who are already multi millionaires is surely going wrong somewhere,” said Luke Hildyard, director at the HPC.
Women led eight FTSE 100 companies in 2022, down from nine in 2021. The median pay for female CEOs in the index was 3.91 million pounds, compared with an average of 3.96 million pounds for men.