CEO Pay Trends 2021

Featuring commentary from Meridian Compensation Partners

CEO Pay Trends, an Equilar publication, analyzes the compensation data of chief executive officers at Equilar 500 companies over the last five fiscal years. The data points and figures captured in the report highlight trends in the compensation of chief executives and how companies award that compensation. Meridian Compensation Partners has provided independent commentary for context on the impact of the pandemic on CEO pay and what to expect in years to come.

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Key Findings

  • Reported total CEO compensation for Equilar 500 companies was $12 million at the median in fiscal year 2020, a 1.5% decrease from $12.2 million in fiscal year 2019
  • The communication services sector led the way with median total compensation of $22.4 million, followed by healthcare with $16.7 million and technology with $13.4 million
  • The median CEO salary fell 2%, and annual bonuses dipped 1.5% while stock awards increased nearly 10%
  • Five in six companies that offered equity to their CEOs granted performance-based awards and 63.3% of equity compensation was awarded via performance grants at the median
  • The CEO Pay Ratio increased at the median, up from 189:1 to 193:1, indicating that median pay for employees across the Equilar 500 decreased in fiscal year 2020