Sunday, January 3rd, 2016
Mark Scott, the outgoing Managing Director of the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), was paid an annual salary of around $800,000. The incoming replacement, Singapore-based ex-Google executive, Michelle Guthrie, will receive $900,000. These are preposterous wages at Australia’s national broadcaster.
The poorer among us cough up a lung in disgust at CEO wages. There is no reason that explains a $900,000 wage in a public-funded position. It can’t be explained away by the CEO’s responsibility, or stress, or being on call every day of the year, or even skills brought to the position. And those who try to explain it away in those terms often state that it’s the wage we have to offer to get the right people for the job in a competitive market.
I graduated from my MBA in 2010 in the top fifth percentile. If we’re going to argue about attracting the right people to the CEO position then be prepared to look at leadership failures where that exact logic was employed. High wages do not guarantee leadership success. High wages exist to assuage risk averse boardrooms into overpaying for leadership experience.
My particular concern with this $900,000 wage at the ABC is that the last decade of Australian political rhetoric resounds with claims of an Age of Entitlement. The stripping of benefits from single mothers. The demonisation of the unemployed and disabled. The perpetual movement towards some kind of economic apartheid in Australian society.