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Executive Compensation Guiding Principles

Executive pay remains the subject of intense interest from shareholders, government and the public around the world. It has become a lightning rod for criticism, and a symbol of how organizations both govern themselves and respond to stakeholder concerns.

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There is no single perfect measure that encompasses the many factors that should be considered in assessing executive performance.

There are many opinions on pay levels and practices today – along with proposed approaches to designing and delivering them. How do influencers of these decisions identify the path forward? From where can they find sound advice? What is the best thinking on the unique complexities of your own organization?

To help address these and other questions, our executive compensation leaders are pleased to share our Guiding Principles, a conceptual framework and set of guidelines for how to best navigate the nuances of pay for senior executives. This powerful set of tools will help drive exceptional performance, create alignment with owners and focus management on creating value.

The "Guiding Principles" are a current, readily accessible and thorough body of knowledge, that include:

Insights and experience of more than 100 of our senior executive compensation consultants, shared via interviews and workshops.

Findings from the Independent Directors' Executive Compensation (IDEC) Project, which collected the views from hundreds of board members across various organizations and industries to develop core principles for the governance of executive compensation.

A continuous scan of the current executive compensation landscape based on legislative, regulatory and economic developments.

Research on executive compensation program effectiveness using our many proprietary surveys and databases and leveraging publicly available data.

Organizations that marry their programs to an effective and well-implemented strategy are poised to capture the strongest outcomes.

Guiding Principles Chapters

  1. 01

    The purpose and importance of executive compensation

    Guiding Principles of Executive Compensation provides a strategic, principles-based approach to help drive optimal business performance.

  2. 02

    Overarching and operating principles of executive compensation

    Willis Towers Watson established guiding principles for executive compensation and we discuss the rationale for using these principles.

  3. 03

    Initial public offerings: aligning compensation to reflect new owners’ priorities

    When transitioning from privately-owned to publicly-traded companies, the key overarching EC principles to consider are purpose and alignment.

  4. 04

    The unique compensation needs of biotechnology start-ups

    We discuss how to apply EC guiding principles to biotechs and balance alignment and engagement, as exemplified in our case study, BioCore.

  5. 05

    Balancing tips for walking the health care incentives tightrope

    We apply the overarching and operating principles of executive compensation at health systems using a fictional nonprofit company as an example.

  6. 06

    Respecting family values and competitive realities in a nonpublic company

    We describe the application of the overarching and operating principles of executive compensation based on a compilation of actual companies and situations.

  7. 07

    A founder-led company overcomes significant challenges to incentivize and engage employees

    Discover how the overarching principle of purpose helped foster greater engagement, focus and motivation to generate the company’s desired results.

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