Britain’s bluechip firms cut down chief executive pay in the year 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic struck but the head of COVID-19 vaccine maker AstraZeneca, Pascal Soriot, still received a chart-topping £15.45 million (RM90 million), a survey showed.
With many businesses experiencing sharp losses as the world suffered lockdowns, CEOs of London’s biggest listed companies saw median annual pay drop 17%, the High Pay Centre think tank said.
However AstraZeneca chief executive managed to earn the equivalent of US$21.25 million or 50% more than his nearest challenger — Brian Cassin, the CEO at credit-rating group Experian.
The research findings raise interesting questions about inequality, pay and responsible business practice in the UK
The High Pay Centre campaigns for a narrowing of the huge gap between CEO and ordinary workers’ wages in Britain.
“Very high CEO pay reflects a wider gap between rich and poor in the UK than in most other European countries,” said High Pay Centre Director Luke Hildyard.
“The inequalities exposed by the pandemic and the volume of public money used to protect large businesses could strengthen the argument for measures to contain top pay and re-balance extreme income differences.”
The survey showed that median CEO pay was 86 times median earnings for a full-time worker in the UK.
The highest paid female CEO last year was Emma Walmsley, who earned £7.0 million as boss of pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline.
Median chief executive pay last year was £2.69 million among the 100 companies surveyed.