India Inc bosses to get 9.1% pay hike, average CEO compensation now Rs 8.4 cr

New Delhi (IANS) Amid widespread layoffs, top Indian CEOs and senior executives are set for an average 9.1 per cent salary hike in 2023 and average CEO compensation has gone up 21 per cent over the past four years to Rs 8.4 crore now, a study showed on Monday.

The study found that among the Bombay Stock Exchange’s (BSE) top 30 companies, long-term incentive (LTI) is provided at 176 per cent of fixed pay for CEOs and at 103 percent for other c-level executives, including the chief operating officer, chief financial officer, sales leader and chief human resources officer.

The average LTI amount for CEOs for the same set of organizations is Rs 10 crore, according to the study by Aon, a leading global professional services firm that analysed data across 519 companies from more than 25 industries.

Within Pay at Risk — the sum of variable pay and long-term incentives (LTI) for total compensation — the component of LTI has increased to 40 per cent of the total compensation as of now, up from 26 per cent in 2015-16.

“In a rapidly evolving, volatile business environment, organizations seek to adopt executive pay programmes that drive the right behaviours, are cost effective and contribute to long-term business results,” said Nitin Sethi, CEO, Human Capital Solutions, India and South Asia at Aon.

For the Board and senior managerial positions, one in three organizations are focusing on improving diversity levels.

As part of an accelerated effort, boards are embedding environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors, diversity and succession metrics in the long-term and short-term goals for CEOs and executive leaders, the study noted.

Compensation, and its related governance, continues to be an important issue for employers as they strive to build and maintain a resilient workforce.

“With rising shareholder activism, pay governance has become a key focus area for India Inc. As a result, organizations are updating their ‘Malus clauses’ that are additional checks before vesting of long-term executive incentives — particularly in cases of material financial restatement,” said Pritish Gandhi, director and practice leader of the Executive Compensation and Governance Practice in India at Aon.

Malus clauses allow a company to reduce or cancel a senior executive’s bonus or share award before it has been paid out.

“At the same time, clawback clauses which allow organisations to retrieve past pay-outs under exigent circumstances of fraud and misconduct are also being applied for a duration of three to five years, as organisations design their 2023 executive compensation programmes,” Gandhi elaborated.

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