We wanted to see the moon, but we have been induced to look only at the finger. And it is that the important thing many times is not how much, but how. For years, the debate around the quotas of women in companies has focused mainly on quantitative aspects. In the last decade, the minimum limits for female directors in listed companies have been increasing – the Draft Organic Law on Equal Representation of Women and Men in Government Decision-Making Bodies has just placed the threshold at 40% before 1st of July 2024— However, and despite the progressive improvement in terms of equality, the truth is that qualitatively women continue to command very little. The appointments of female directors are usually reserved for the categories of proprietary or independent. There are hardly any promotions for executive positions. This imbalance is reflected in wages. In the Spanish Stock Market there are only 9 women among the 160 highest paid directors.
This is one of the conclusions of the eleventh edition of the remuneration report prepared by EL PAÍS with the data sent by listed companies to the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV). In 2022, the year under review, pay inequality increased again. The best paid executive directors of the Ibex 35 companies earned an average of 4.73 million euros last year. This amount is 81.5 times more than the 58,095 euros received by the employees of the companies they run. The gap widened compared to previous years: in 2021 the differential between bosses and employees was 76 times and in 2020 it stood at 79 times.
Last year, the best-paid person on the Stock Exchange – and which partly explains the increase in inequality – worked only three months. From January to March. On April 1, 2022, Pablo Isla relinquished his executive duties as Chairman and CEO of Inditex. His march —like sorrows with bread— was showered with millions. Without counting the pensions and the value of his shares in the company, Isla left the command post with a total settlement of 27.21 million. This amount includes, in addition to the proportional part of his salary for those three months of service, a non-competition shield, severance pay and early settlement of long-term incentive plans in which he participated. The total amount received by Isla represents 1,088 times the 25,000 euros that Inditex employees received on average in 2022.
Second place on the salary scale corresponded to the CEO of Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, Damian Gammell, who received 13.4 million euros for all items. In third place was the president of Iberdrola, José Ignacio Sánchez Galán, who received 13.06 million, followed by the president of Banco Santander, Ana Patricia Botín, with 11.73 million between salary and pension. José Antonio Álvarez, Santander’s number two until the end of last year, received a total compensation of 9.57 million. He also highlighted the remuneration of the president of Sacyr, Manuel Manrique, who between salary and contribution to the pension plan earned 9.23 million. Carlos Torres, president of BBVA (8.5 million); Óscar García Maceiras, CEO of Inditex (8.37 million), and the two members of the Mittal family at the helm of ArcelorMittal, Lakshmi and Aditya, with 8.2 and 8.04 million respectively, completed the top ten salaries in 2022 .
Runaway inflation has put the magnifying glass on the loss of purchasing power of workers. Many companies are reluctant to equate payrolls with the rising cost of living. It is true that among the listed companies there have been upward salary revisions in the workforce, but these did not compensate for the inflationary pressures. Specifically, among the almost one hundred groups analysed, the average salary last year stood at 56,445 euros, an amount that represents an improvement of 4.3%. The biggest salary increases occurred among the largest corporations, those included in the Ibex 35, where the average remuneration was 58,095 euros, 7.02% more.
In the case of corporate noble floors, the evolution of remunerations was mixed. In the boards of directors, the average remuneration of the entire Stock Exchange fell by 6.09%, standing at 420,302 euros. For their part, members of senior management of listed companies received 720,878 euros, representing an improvement of 8.63%.
Among the executive directors of the Stock Exchange there are 85 people who received more than one million euros in 2022. However, the club of millioneuristas The floor space is actually broader because there are also quite a few senior managers whose payrolls exceed this threshold. The companies that paid their top managers the best last year were the following: Inditex (4.55 million euros on average, an amount that includes some compensation for the managers who left with Isla), Banco Santander (3.8 million) , Fluidra (2.94 million, due to the distribution of a long-term bonus), Telefónica (2.27 million) and Iberdrola (2.08 million).
First it was the covid and then inflation. The truth is that inequality is growing, even in developed economies. In the case of the Spanish Stock Market, it is increasingly common to see differences of more than 100 times between what the main manager of a company earns compared to the average salary of its employees. As mentioned above, Inditex was the most unequal company among all listed companies in 2022, with a differential of 1,088 times. It is true that this figure is inflated by the settlement of Isla, but the textile group of Amancio Ortega, since EL PAÍS carried out this study, has always been among the most unequal companies in salary terms. After Inditex, the greatest differential occurred in Cie Automotive (the salary of the chief executive is equivalent to 392 times what his subordinates receive), Prosegur (372 times), Sacyr (297 times), BBVA (223 times) and Santander ( 209 times).
Bankers have 210 million euros in pensions
The CEOE employers have shown their “frontal opposition” to the latest government pension reform, considering it “regressive” and “populist”. This business organization has among its members companies such as Acciona, ACS, Amadeus, BBVA, CaixaBank, Banco Santander, Endesa or Telefónica, among others. The opinion of Antonio Garamendi, its president, or of any other CEOE director on the pensions accumulated by the directors of the Ibex 35 giants is not known. And that their figures do not go unnoticed.
As of December 31, the executive directors of the main listed companies had pension rights (consolidated and unconsolidated) worth 344 million euros, according to data compiled by EL PAÍS included in the remuneration reports sent by the companies to the CNMV. Although the practice of contributing periodically to the piggy bank for the retirement of directors has spread to almost all sectors, the banking sector continues to be the one that allocates the most money to this form of compensation. Traditionally, financial institutions have used pension systems arguing that the contracts of their senior managers did not enjoy the golden parachute clauses that existed in other sectors to protect directors in the event of dismissal. The rest of the sectors (construction, telecommunications, insurance, steel industry…) have been incorporating contributions to pensions, but for this reason they have not abandoned the practice of including gold settlements in the contracts of their first swords.
The current directors of the five large banks listed on the Ibex 35 have pension rights worth 102 million euros. If the rights accumulated by former directors are added to this amount, the total figure is 210 million. Banco Santander has commitments worth 47.95 million euros with its former directors, while the piggy bank of the current administrators already adds up to 65.68 million. In the case of BBVA, the former directors still accumulate rights valued at 54.32 million, while the retirement cushion for the current leadership already has 22.77 million. The former directors of CaixaBank, for their part, have 3.21 million, while the directors accumulate another 3.83 million.
If these privileged pensions are analyzed from an individual point of view, the person with the most money for retirement today is the president of ACS. The construction and services company has retirement commitments with Florentino Pérez valued at 47.96 million after they injected 1.36 million into his private plan. Very close to the also president of Real Madrid is the pension of Ana Patricia Botín. The president of Banco Santander had 46.72 million on December 31, since the bank contributed a total of 1.08 million in 2022. In third place, and at a great distance from both, is Carlos Torres. BBVA contributed 0.9 million to his president last year for his pension and this already totals 22.77 million. Another banker, José Antonio Álvarez, occupies the next position on the ladder. Banco Santander entered 0.8 million into its system for retirement and it already accumulates 18.95 million. In fifth place is José Manuel Entrecanales. In recent years, the president of Acciona has been rapidly climbing the ranks of the largest pensions and his retirement plan is already valued at 18.56 million.
Golden settlements for 806 executives
When an executive director or a senior manager is fired before the end of his contract, he usually deploys his golden parachute with which to cushion the blow of job loss. The shields included in the contracts of the residents of the corporate noble floors are known in the jargon as golden parachutes and in many cases they involve millionaire settlements that reach up to three or more annuities.
As of December 31, there were up to 806 executives with a golden parachute clause on the Spanish Stock Market, an amount that represents 4.2% less than at the end of the 2021 financial year. Most of these safeguard mechanisms are concentrated in the Ibex ( 607 managers). The company with the most armored managers is Repsol, with 215, followed by Dia (57), BBVA (56), Grifols (45) and CaixaBank (37).
The shields as such are not submitted for approval by the shareholders’ meeting, but the complete remuneration policy of the board of directors is. In a capitalist democracy, those who have the last word on whether managers generate enough value to justify the compensation they receive are the shareholders. And, judging by the latest data, opposition to mega-salaries is in decline. In the 2022 meetings (which analyzed the remuneration report for the 2021 financial year), the negative vote on the salaries received by the heads of the listed companies stood at 6.95% compared to 7.83% a year earlier. The rejection of wages in Ibex companies was higher (9.42% on average) than in the case of small and medium-sized companies (5.53%).
In 2022, the company where shareholders showed the greatest discontent with the salary of the board of directors was the train manufacturer CAF, where the negative vote reached 32.79% of the total. The opposition movements in Colonial (32%), Talgo (27.94%), Miquel y Costas (26.53%) and Sacyr (25.66%) also stood out. Amadeus, which at the 2021 meeting had a rejection of more than 60%, reduced discontent in 2022 to limit it to 8.7%.
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