"Tough action to match the rhetoric" is not something anyone can seriously associate with May`s government, and publishing the names of stock exchange companies "that suffered at least a 20% shareholder rebellion against proposals for executives` pay" or other resolutions at shareholder meetings, simply strengthens the argument (Chief executives are hard to embarrass: rules on pay must get even tougher, 24.12.17). Not only will it do little to "rein in excessive awards", as these executives, like bankers, really are "immune to embarrassment", the list is incomplete. For example, it omits Persimmon, because only 9.7% of its shareholders objected to the renumeration proposals which gave 150 bosses a share of £600 million, with the CEO pocketing over £100m, and it will have omitted many more. Far from being an initiative which "bore fruit" as your Business Leader contends, the government`s list will ensure this particular "unacceptable face of capitalism" keeps smiling.
Trusting in the ethical behaviour of businessmen is like believing bankers have to be given bonuses to keep the "best people" in the City. Having rules to force all companies "to publish pay data", as the Leader suggests, is not enough; since when has "naming and shaming" had any success in deterring businesses or rich individuals from pursuing tax avoidance policies?
Alternative proposals with more chance of success involve parliamentary legislation. A sensible ratio between CEOs` pay and the average worker in the companies has to be agreed upon, and a law passed enforcing the decision. Failing that, raising the top levels of income tax to such heights that the amassing of obscene wealth becomes impossible, would not be unpopular with the majority of voters. Such a policy is not unprecedented, with Wilson` government in the 1970s having a top level of 83% for earnings, plus an extra 15% for investment income.
CEOs, like university vice-chancellors, do not achieve results on their own, and if legislation is needed to end their greed and shrink their arrogance, so be it!