SPECIAL REPORT: After The Covid Cut—How The Pandemic Affected Compensation Trends


Last year, in the midst of the pandemic, Chief Executive surveyed more than 1,400 private U.S. organizations on their compensation strategies and the actions they were taking, if any, to navigate the crisis. Our research found that by late June, two companies out of five had cut or planned to cut their CEO’s base salary in response to the crisis—the majority of which reported cuts of 10 to 30 percent overall.


New data from Chief Executive’s 2021 CEO & Senior Executive Compensation survey, fielded from April through June 2021, confirms that approximately 40 percent of companies did reduce their CEO’s base salary in 2020—but also finds that these cuts were not as steep as had been expected 12 months earlier.


What’s more, the majority of firms that instituted pay cuts last year have since made their CEOs whole again by reinstating pre-Covid compensation levels, and 8 percent of surveyed companies in 2021 report that they have increased their CEO’s base salary in response to how their company navigated the Covid-19 crisis.

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