Sajjan Jindal, the chief executive officer of Jindal Steel Works earned 1,052 times as much as the firm’s average employee in the financial year of 2018-’19, according to a report on the pay ratios of India’s top executives compiled by two economists. The pay ratio at the firm improved in 2019-’20, with the CEO salary amounting to 581 times the average employee, the economists found.
The pay ratio is the ratio of the top salaries in a group to the bottom salaries.
The report was compiled by Reetika Khera, an associate professor of economics at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, along with Meghna Yadav, who is a graduate at Delhi School of Economics.
Under section 197(12) of the Companies Act, 2013, and Rule 5(1) of the Companies (Appointment and Remuneration of Managerial Personnel) Rules 2014, publicly traded companies are required to disclose the salaries of their top management vis-a-vis other employees.
But of the 42 private companies in the Nifty50, Reliance Industries was the only company that did not make the mandatory disclosures regarding pay ratio of the highest paid CEO to median salary. In fact, the company has been dodging the rule since 2016-’17, the report said.
Instead, the company’s Annual Report stated the information on pay ratios was available for inspection on all working day at the registered office of the company. “Any member interested in obtaining such information may write to the Company Secretary and the same will be furnished on request,” Reliance’s report stated.
The economists’ report added that Pawan Munjal of Hero Motocorp was the highest paid chief executive officer in 2019-’20 with a salary of Rs 85 crore. Hero Motocorp reported the highest pay ratio for 2019-’20, with Munjal earning 752 times more than the average worker. The lowest pay ratio was recorded at Maruti Suzuki, whose CEO, Kenichi Ayukawa, was found to be earning 39 times more than the company’s employees.
But the overall figures in the report reflected glaring workforce inequality. A comparison of the percentage increase in the wages of the top paid executive with the percentage increase in the median salary revealed that out of 37 companies, where data was available, the increase in median remuneration was lower for 15 companies and higher for 21 firms.
Besides the jarring pay gaps, the report also pointed towards the lack of inclusivity in companies. Out of the 42 companies, only one woman – HDFC Life Insurance head Vibha Padalkar – is on this list of top paid executives. Additionally, “there do not appear to be any Dalits or STs [Scheduled Tribes], and there is at least one Muslim,” the report said.
The pay gap between executives and workers is a global phenomenon, which experts believe is rooted in systemic economic and social inequality.
In the United Kingdom, senior executives in top 100 companies took just 33 hours to be paid more than the typical worker’s annual salary, according to data released by the High Pay Centre. The thinktank’s analysis showed that these CEOs are typically paid 117 times more than the median worker, at £901.30 an hour or £3.46m a year.
In the United States, top chief executives on an average made 264 times as much as their typical employee in 2019, according to the annual report by AFL-CIO, the largest US labour federation. Although the pay ratio was narrowed than the year before, the report said it was expected to rise “dramatically” because of the coronavirus. The unions’ report was based on the ratio that most companies report of the earnings of their CEO to the median pay of all other workers.
Corrections and clarifications: An earlier version of this article misstated the year while reporting the pay ratio at Jindal Steel Works.