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While the CEO preaches cost cutting and efficiencies, his salary is exorbitant. Should I confront him about this? (Thinkstock/Thinkstock)
While the CEO preaches cost cutting and efficiencies, his salary is exorbitant. Should I confront him about this? (Thinkstock/Thinkstock)

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Is it OK to challenge my CEO’s exorbitant pay? Add to ...

Dear Corporate Governess

One of my co-workers loves to comment on my arrival and departure times at the office. It’s incredibly irritating, but explaining that I often work into the evening at home hasn’t stopped her. Any suggestions?

Margot B., Winnipeg

Dear Margot,

Incredible as it may seem, there are still office drones who believe that work can only be done at a desk, in the office, between the hours of 9 and 5. The best defence is to not give her the reaction she craves – so no slinking by her as though her opinion matters. You’ve already told her you continue to work at home. No further explanation needed.

It’s important not to let her undermine your confidence. You know you get the job done, and so do your team and your superiors, or you wouldn’t have the flexibility you enjoy. Greet her head-on with a cheery hello and let her stew in her own banality.

Dear Corporate Governess,

Ever since a certain website revealed our CEO’s exorbitant pay, it’s been hard to take his rants about reducing spending or finding efficiencies. It’s a mid-sized company that encourages staff to contribute ideas. Is challenging his salary fair game?

Evan V., Toronto

Dear Evan,

Sure, but don’t expect him to cut his salary any time soon. Compensation is typically set by the board, which expects top performance aligned with the company’s goals. If the board is happy with the value your CEO brings to the company, it may even increase his pay pack. That’s not to say those exorbitant rates aren’t out of whack. According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Canada’s 100 highest-paid CEOs made 184 times more than the average wage in 2014. No wonder you’re feeling disgruntled.

Your CEO would do well to remember that there’s a tipping point here, where people start to feel like hamsters on a wheel – particularly if a decent cage in the city soars out of reach. That disconnect can hurt productivity and the bottom line. Savvy organizations are starting to recognize that and capping executive salaries relative to employee pay (at Whole Foods, it’s 19 to 1).

A more immediate way to raise the issue: Ask what you can do to increase your own salary. If your company offers paid training and professional development, go for it. If not, that’s an area where your CEO could be open to adding new opportunities for employees. And with more training comes a bigger paycheque – because, in the end, what you really want is more money in your pocket, too.

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