Macron expresses shock over wage gaps at France’s biggest firms

One CEO earned 1,484 times their company’s average wage in 2021, according to Oxfam

A photo of a stack of coins with models of three men on top to show high CEO salaries
The Oxfam report highlighted how much more the CEOs of the top French companies are paid in comparison to their average workers
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President Emmanuel Macron has expressed his shock over a new study that highlighted the salary gaps at France’s biggest companies.

Oxfam said between 2011 and 2021, CEOs saw their annual wage rise by 66%, compared to 21% for those working for them.

"It shocks everyone, it shocks me too," said Mr Macron. “For years, bosses in the public sector have been limited in their remuneration.”

The study looked at the 100 largest French companies on the Paris stock exchange, SBF 120, but excluded financial and property firms.

It said the biggest gap between a firm’s CEO and the average wage among workers was at Teleperformance, a French multinational specialising in call centres. Its CEO, Daniel Julien, earned a reported €19.6million in 2021. Oxfam said this was 1,484 times the average wage at the company.

The NGO also highlighted the case of Carlos Taveres, head of the automobile group Stellantis. His annual earnings in 2021 was €66million, which consisted of 5.8% of fixed income, 21.3% variable and 72.7% in shares.

Oxfam said this was 1,139 times an average wage at Stellantis and 3,420 times someone on the minimum wage in France.

Possible regulation?

In the report, Oxfam suggested ways to reduce this gap.

It wants a limit set so that a CEO’s salary is never more than 20 times that of the average salary at the company.

Léa Guerin, author of the Oxfam report, said: “What’s certain is that if there was a maximum gap, the wealth would be spread more equally.”

It also called for workers’ salaries to be increased, especially for women, and not only via bonuses but for basic pay packages.

Oxfam also said CEOs’ pay should not be attached to stock options but connected to the firm’s long-term objectives.

Ms Guerin added Oxfam wanted to “challenge governing bodies to ensure that the balance of power is more balanced and the opinion of workers more visible".

Oxfam has created a calculator that lets you compare your salary with that of a CEO of a major French company. You can try it here.

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