Of the few provisions in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that address governance of excessive executive compensation, the Say-on-Pay provision is the only one that the U.S. has actually implemented. Critics argue that Say-on-Pay has been a colossal failure in the three years that it has been in effect, and that very few shareholders feel strongly enough about CEO pay to vote against CEO pay packages.
In a new policy note, Susan Holmberg, Director of Research at the Roosevelt Institute, presents the key economic research on the measurable impacts of Say-on-Pay in both the U.S. and the U.K., the latter of which has had a version of Say-on-Pay in force for much longer. Drawing on this evidence, this paper argues that while Say-on-Pay alone will not slow the rise of CEO pay, the policy does have some measurable effect on CEO pay practices. Further, Say-on-Pay can enhance corporate governance practices by improving lines of communication between companies and their shareholders. Along with Say-on-Pay, it is critical that we pursue a range of policies that address the problems of executive compensation.