CEOs of South Africa’s top companies earned a median of R5.4m in 2018, up from R5.2m in 2017, which represents R450 000 per month, a new trends report has found.
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers 11th edition of the Executive directors: Practices and remuneration trends report released on Tuesday, the median pay for all executive directors (including CEO, CFOs and managing directors) on JSE listed companies increased by 4.9% in 2018, slightly above inflation which stands at 4.6%.
The median refers to the midpoint between a set of figures and does not mean the average number. The pay that was surveyed by PwC is the total guaranteed package (TGP) which includes the salary, bonus and long term incentives such as share options paid to executives.
The PwC report considers remuneration trends, gender balances and pay reporting requirements at 365 active companies listed on the JSE before April 2019. In 2018, average salaries in South Africa rose between 6.8% to 8%.
Executive pay is a controversial topic in SA and around the world, with an increased number of shareholders and the public objecting to high CEO and CFO pay during tough economic times.
Workplace inequality rises
"Executive pay continues to be in the spotlight, with everyone from institutional shareholders, the Government, the media and other interested stakeholders, having an opinion on it," said Gerald Seegers, Head of People and Organisation for PwC Africa.
"One cannot underestimate the value that an effective CEO can add to a company - it is a high-profile position, particularly in a listed environment. Although companies are starting to accept the notion of fair pay, more should be done to increase the awareness around fair and responsible remuneration on a national scale."
Seegers asked whether with SA’s high unemployment rate of 27.6%, CEOs should be rewarded financially for increasing job numbers and penalised for retrenchments.
However, Leila Ebrahimi, associate director at PwC cautioned this could be difficult to implement with the increased trend of digitisation. The PwC report found that The SA Gini coefficient, measuring inequality of the employed for this year is at 0.436, marking an increase of 0.011 compared to the Gini for 2018.
"Inequality has actually increased for the period under review…but if the only strategy is to change executive pay, you will fail dismally. Adjusting the bottom, will make the significant difference," Andreas Horak, PwC associate editor remarked.
The report noted that some of the JSE Top 40 companies are paying a living wage, rather than the National Minimum Wage of R3 500 and no employee earns below R10 000 – R13 000.
Gender pay gap
While gender representation has improved slightly from 2017, it still remains tiny. Just 3.3% of all CEOs on the JSE are female, up from 2.2% in the previous year. According to the report there is no sector in which overall, female executive directors are paid more than men. The largest pay gaps are in Healthcare (28.1%), followed by Consumer Discretionary (25.1%), Technology (22.9%) and Financials (21.8%). The gender pay gap refers to the difference between what men and women are paid.
"To bring about real change, companies should not address gender parity and diversity concerns merely to appease individuals or organisations, but should rather treat these initiatives as being essential components in their long-term success," said Anelisa Keke, Senior Manager and editor of the PwC report.
CEOs by race
JSE listed companies in 2018 reported that the clear majority of CEOs are white, with 10.2% of CEO being black African, 1.7% being coloured, 2.7% Indian and 85% being white.
Transformation improves slightly when considering executive directors broadly where 29.5% of executive directors are Black African compared to 40.0% that are white. The average age of executive director remains 56 years old. The PwC rewards team advises companies to improve their succession planning to ensure black candidates from within the companies’ ranks reach the upper echelons of management.