We did the math to calculate how many hours it takes America's top CEOs to make what their workers earn in one year

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Satya Nadella Microsoft

  • While it’s not surprising that CEOs make a lot more money than their employees, the massive extent of that pay gap can sometimes be overlooked.
  • US companies are required to publish their chief executives’ annual compensation, as well as the ratio of that compensation to the annual pay of the company’s median employee.
  • Using those ratios, we calculated how long it took CEOs at 19 of the biggest companies in the US to make what at typical employee earned in a year.
  • Several CEOs, including Disney CEO Bob Iger and Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, took less than a day to make a typical employee’s annual salary.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

CEOs make a lot more than the workers they oversee. We took a look at just how big that gap is at some of America’s biggest corporations.

One of the provisions of the post-financial-crisis Dodd-Frank reform bill requires corporations to disclose the ratio of their CEO’s pay to that of the median employee at the company. Using those pay ratios, we calculated how long it would take the CEOs of big US companies to make what the median employee earned in a year.

So far, 19 of the 100 largest corporations in the S&P 500 as measured by their market capitalizations have filed their CEO compensation figures and pay ratios for the 2019 fiscal year. More companies will follow over the next several months.

The gap between what a CEO makes and what a typical employee makes varies widely from company to company. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang had a total compensation 88 times larger than the typical employee at his company, meaning it took him a little over four days to earn the median employee’s annual salary. Meanwhile, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon made 1,076 times what the typical Walmart worker made, and thus earned a median Walmart employee’s annual salary in just eight hours.

As with any discussion of executive compensation, it’s worth noting that pay for people at the top is a bit more complicated than just getting a biweekly direct deposit. Many CEOs receive the bulk of their compensation in the form of equity in the companies they run, and so they may not realize the full value of their pay as reported to the SEC for years.

Here’s the full list, along with the CEOs’ fiscal year 2019 compensation, median employee pay, and the CEO to median worker pay ratio:

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19. Oracle co-CEO Safra Katz took 30 days and 10 hours to earn what a typical employee did in a year.

CEO compensation: $965,981

Typical employee salary: $83,813

Ratio: 12:1

Oracle’s other co-CEO Mark Hurd died in October 2019.

18. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang took 4 days and 4 hours to earn what a typical employee made in a year.

CEO compensation: $13,642,838

Typical employee salary: $155,035

Ratio: 88:1

17. Intuit CEO Sasan Goodarzi took 3 days and 5 hours to earn what a typical employee made in a year.

CEO compensation: $17,933,345

Typical employee salary: $157,232

Ratio: 114:1

Intuit noted in their proxy statement that Goodarzi’s compensation reflects annualized pay.

16. Costco CEO W. Craig Jelinek took 2 days and 4 hours to earn what a typical employee made in a year.

CEO compensation: $8,016,200

Typical employee salary: $47,312

Ratio: 169:1

15. Visa CEO Alfred F. Kelly Jr. took 2 days and 4 hours to earn what a typical employee made in a year.

CEO compensation: $24,265,771

Typical employee salary: $142,494

Ratio: 170:1

14. Cisco Systems CEO Chuck Robbins took 2 days to earn what a typical employee made in a year.

CEO compensation: $25,829,833

Typical employee salary: $142,593

Ratio: 181:1

13. Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff took 1 day and 23 hours to earn what a typical employee made in a year.

CEO compensation: $28,391,846

Typical employee salary: $151,955

Ratio: 187:1

Salesforce’s other co-CEO Keith Block made $16,961,156 in 2019, meaning it took him 3 days, 6 hours to make what a typical employee did in a year.

12. Apple CEO Tim Cook took 1 day and 20 hours to earn what a typical employee made in a year.

CEO compensation: $11,555,466

Typical employee salary: $57,596

Ratio: 201:1

11. Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak took 1 day and 13 hours to earn what a typical employee made in a year.

CEO compensation: $17,796,325

Typical employee salary: $74,206

Ratio: 240:1

10. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella took 1 day and 11 hours to earn what a typical employee made in a year.

CEO compensation: $42,910,215

Typical employee salary: $172,512

Ratio: 249:1

9. Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf took 1 day and 10 hours to earn what a typical employee made in a year.

CEO compensation: $23,065,052

Typical employee salary: $90,259

Ratio: 256:1

8. ADP CEO Carlos Rodriguez took 1 day and 5 hours to earn what a typical employee made in a year.

CEO compensation: $19,000,187

Typical employee salary: $63,225

Ratio: 301:1

7. Former Nike CEO Mark G. Parker took 15 hours and 56 minutes to earn what a typical employee made in a year.

CEO compensation: $13,968,022

Typical employee salary: $25,386

Ratio: 550:1

Note: Parker stepped down as Nike CEO in January 2020 and was succeeded by John Donahoe.

6. Estée Lauder CEO Fabrizio Freda took 12 hours and 34 minutes to earn what a typical employee made in a year.

CEO compensation: $21,435,428

Typical employee salary: $30,733

Ratio: 697:1

5. Former Accenture Interim CEO David P. Rowland took 10 hours and 43 minutes to earn what a typical employee made in a year.

CEO compensation: $15,031,875

Typical employee salary: $18,392

Ratio: 817:1

Note: Rowland stepped down as CEO in September 2019 and was succeeded by Julie Sweet. Accenture also provided an alternate estimate of the CEO pay ratio based on a cost-of-living adjustment, as their median employee was based in India. Using that estimate, the ratio was 298:1, and Rowland would have made what the median employee did in 1 day, 5 hours.

4. Disney CEO Bob Iger took 9 hours and 37 minutes to earn what a typical employee made in a year.

CEO compensation: $47,517,762

Typical employee salary: $52,184

Ratio: 911:1

3. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon took 8 hours and 8 minutes to earn what a typical employee made in a year.

CEO compensation: $23,618,233

Typical employee salary: $21,952

Ratio: 1,076:1

2. TJX CEO Ernie Herrman took 5 hours and 29 minutes to earn what a typical employee made in a year.

CEO compensation: $18,822,770

Typical employee salary: $11,791

Ratio: 1,596:1

1. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson took 5 hours and 14 minutes to earn what a typical employee made in a year.

CEO compensation: $19,241,950

Typical employee salary: $11,489

Ratio: 1,675:1



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