Special Report

McDonald’s CEO Made 1,100 Times What His Workers Did

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has long required public corporations to disclose the compensation of their top officers. The debate about whether chief executive officers are paid too much has gone on for decades. Many investors object to high CEO pay, which often runs into the tens of millions of dollars. Boards of directors claim that good CEOs are hard to find and that they have responsibilities for tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of workers.

Last year, the CEO of McDonald’s, Christopher Kempczinski, made 1,189 times the median compensation of his workers, according to an exclusive analysis of the pay of 294 public company CEOs done by MyLogIQ, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to examine SEC data. Kempczinski’s total pay was $10,847,032 in 2020. The company’s proxy stated, “McDonald’s is committed to a strong pay-for-performance culture that closely aligns the interests of executives with those of shareholders.”

While Kempczinski made over $10 million, the company had a very rough year. McDonald’s revenue fell by 10% to $19.2 billion. The drop in net income was much worse, down 21% to $4.7 billion.

McDonald’s investors took a beating, too. Shares were up only 7% last year, while the S&P 500 saw a gain of 15%.

Kempczinski’s $10.8 million compensation also has to be viewed in contrast to what McDonald’s workers make. Job site Indeed estimates the hourly pay of crew members and cooks at below $10. Employment site Glassdoor’s hourly pay estimate is similar. In each case, these pay levels can put employees below the poverty level.

The McDonald’s board can argue that Kempczinski skillfully has steered the company through the pandemic. However, that 1,189 times figure is incredible.

In spite of this large disparity, there are half a dozen other CEOs running S&P 500 companies in 2020 that had an even higher pay ratio compared to the median employee compensation. To determine the CEOs that made the most money compared to their workers, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from MyLogIQ on the ratio of S&P 500 CEOs compensations compared to the median compensation of their employees. In all, 30 CEOs had compensation at least 400 times higher than the median employee compensation in 2020.

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