Scott Lashinsky discusses CEO pay and Sarbanes-Oxley.
CEOs have been vilified basically for making so much money for themselves while the companies they run have lost so much money for shareholders. Bob Monks, founder of Institutional Shareholder Services, says $1 trillion worth of wealth was shifted to top executives of U.S. companies during the 1990s.
And they're on the defensive. When Harvard Business School Assistant Professor Rakesh Khurana scolded a panel of CEOs, based on his research, for the sins Monks revealed, he was nearly shouted down by Leonard Lauder, chairman of the cosmetics giant Estee Lauder Cos.
"You've never run a company," Lauder told Khurana. As Khurana didn't protest, Lauder's accusation likely is accurate; But it also doesn't negate the research Khurana has done to back up his point.
I think companies like Microsoft, Dell, and Berkshire Hathaway do so well because the top managers are also the major owners. Ownership encourages long-term thinking. But company founders don't live forever, so aligning CEO interests with shareholder interests will always be an issue.