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10 of the Highest Paid S&P 500 CEOs Who Took Pay Cuts in 2020

By George Paul
coins pay CEO
Editorial Credit: mnimage / shutterstock.com

2020 has been a tough year for businesses across the board due to changing market dynamics and government measures meant to curb the spread of COVID-19. Many of these changes have had outsized effects on companies' bottom lines and caused businesses to layoff workers and cut pay in order to avoid bankruptcy.

In some companies, cost reduction efforts have extended up the chain of command and are impacting leadership teams as well. Here is a list of 10 CEOs who have taken pay cuts in 2020.

Robert (Bob) Iger, Disney

Bob Iger is the mastermind behind Disney’s acquisition of both Marvel and Star Wars, while he stepped down from his position as CEO in February 2020, he remains the company’s Executive Chairman. In March 2020, Disney announced Iger would forgo his salary and new CEO Bob Chapek will take a 50% pay cut in response to financial challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In 2019, Iger had a total compensation package worth around $47.5 million, per The Wall Street Journal.

Brian L. Roberts, Comcast

Brian Roberts heads up media giant Comcast and earned a total compensation package worth around $34.6 million in 2019. However this year Roberts has joined other media executives in pledging his salary to coronavirus-related relief efforts.

D. James (Jim) Umpleby III, Caterpillar

Chief executive of iconic construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar, Jim Umpleby, has ruled out the possibility of a raise in 2020 and will not take a payout outlined under the company’s annual incentive plan. This pay freeze extends to all the company’s senior executives, management, and salaried employees. The exclusion of a bonus will lower Umpleby’s total compensation package, which was worth $34.5 million in 2019.

Jeffery W. Yabuki, Firserv

Jeffery Yabuki is the CEO of Wisconsin-based financial services company Fiserv who, alongside other senior executives, has agreed to a base salary pay cut to help support the firm during the pandemic. But unlike some other executives, Yabuki has decided to forgo 100% of his base salary. Yabuki’s total compensation package stood at $26.7 million in 2019, including a $1 million base salary.

Samuel N. Hazen, HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare CEO Sam Hazen made $26.8 million in total compensation last year, but this year he has committed to donating 100% of his pay in April and May to the HCA Hope Fund, a charity that provides assistance to employees with proven financial needs. Other HCA executive officers took a 30 percent pay cut, Hazen wrote the executive pay cuts would be in effect until the pandemic passes.

Norman Thomas (Tom) Linebarge, Cummins

Cummins, a company that produces diesel and alternative fuel engines, generators, and related technology, issued across the board cuts to compensation to help the company make it through tough times. In March 2020 the company announced that CEO Tom Linebarger’s salary would be halved. In 2019, he had a $25.1 million total compensation package, including a $1.5 million dollar base salary.

H. Lawrence (Larry) Culp Jr., General Electric

Iconic American manufacturer GE is also not immune from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and CEO Larry Culp has forgone his base salary to help ensure the company stays financially sound during the crisis. In addition to his $2.5 million base salary, Culp earned $22.1 million in stocks, bonuses, and other incentives last year. Additionally, GE has called on all of its senior vice presidents to take a 25% pay cut.

Mary T. Barra, General Motors

To combat the negative financial effects of COVID-19 General Motors CEO Mary Barra committed to slashing her compensation by one-third for at least six months in March 2020 - in 2019, Barra brought in $21.6 million in total compensation. Barra’s pay cut came alongside GM's move to defer 20% of cash compensation for 69,000 other salaried employees for six months.

Christopher J. Nassetta, Hilton

Global hospitality giant Hilton has been hit hard by the coronavirus, which has spurred travel restrictions and kept would-be tourists at home. In response, the company has been forced to make large-scale layoffs and the company’s CEO, Christopher Nassetta, has completely forgone his salary to improve the company’s financial situation. Last year, Nassetta earned $21.4 million in total compensation, which includes his $1.3 million base salary.

Darius Adamczyk, Honeywell

As Honeywell grapples with the effects of COVID-19 on its business the company said in an internal e-mail that CEO Darius Adamczyk and other executives will see base-salary cuts of 10% and significantly reduced incentive pay. Last year, Adamczyk brought home $20.5 million in total compensation. Honewell’s cost reduction measures are in addition to a new policy that requires other employees to face two-week furloughs without pay.

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