A Push for Executive Accountability

The effort to give stockholders a “say on pay”—determining the compensation packages of companies’ top executives—gained traction in 2009 as 38 publicly traded companies said they would address compensation issues. While some companies saw the writing on the wall regarding executive pay in the slumping economy of 2009 and pledged to adjust pay packages, others still resisted. At Cisco Systems, the technology corporation, shareholders forced a vote on the issue for the second year in a row in 2009. They prevailed this time, garnering 51.4 percent of all shares voted. The issue has also picked up steam in Washington, where government officials rescued financial firms through its Troubled Assets Relief Program and joined the outcry when some bailed-out firms still produced hefty bonuses for top executives.

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