Sir Martins’ Package; Who is paying for it?

I’ve been tracking the storyline around CEO packages for some time.

We don’t have anything like the scrutiny of the big and publicly quoted companies, of course.

We had a record year last year for profit, but despite this I haven’t awarded myself a significant increase in package.

Whilst I absolutely believe in the need to attract and motivate talent, and the need to be meritocratic, I also think people who run companies need to remember that they have a duty of care for the long-term sustainability of their company.

In many business categories, but especially in the agency space, the key drivers of long-term success are trust (in the leaders/leadership), pride (in the work that we do/results we get), and camaraderie (in the relationships that we have with each other and our clients).

Once these start to go, it quickly becomes difficult to be successful.

Martin Sorrell started WPP. It’s his company. He is motivated – he’s probably not about to join Omnicom, Publicis, or Interpublic any time soon. He’s also very, very wealthy and has a very, very high profile.

Whilst WPP continue to succeed, it is very important to recognize ‘context’. Many clients are consolidating to try to realize efficiency or cost improvement.

This means that many if not most clients are under considerable pressure, looking at restructures, downsizing, spend reduction etc.

Against a backdrop of increasing scrutiny, one wonders why the biggest marketing agency group in the world was unable to see that announcing a pay freeze for their CEO, to reflect the uncertainty in the global economy, and the pressure that was being felt by the many thousands of clients of WPP and the many thousands of hard working WPP people, would be a better way to show leadership.

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