3 Wealthy CEOs Who Shared Their Wages with Their Employees

Income equality is as out of control as ever. The average CEO earns 300 times more than their general employees, up from a 20:1 disparity just 50 years ago. It’s clear that the heads of companies are becoming unfathomably wealthy while the employees who work to earn them these rewards struggle to make ends meet. Fortunately there are a rare few CEOs who seem to understand how lucky they are and share some of their pay/bonuses with their workers.

Truthfully, before I started researching for this piece, I thought I remembered this sort of thing happening more commonly. However, my research kept pointing to the same three names again and again. With that in mind, it’s fair to say that the following three men are anomalies and the vast majority of millionaires hoard their wealth rather than paying it back to their employees.

1. Raymond Burse

Upon accepting the job of president at Kentucky State University this year, Dr. Raymond Burse asked to forfeit $90,000 of his salary so that that money could be reallocated to the university’s lowest paid workers. By shifting this money over, college employees paid minimum wage will now receive $10.25 per hour. “My whole thing is I don’t need to work,” Burse said. “This is not a hobby, but in terms of the people who do the hard work and heavy lifting, they are at the lower pay scale.”

Although Burse is only serving as an interim president, KSU has vowed to maintain the new minimum wage rate moving forward o that their workers can receive a living wage.

2. Yang Yuanqing

In 2012, Yang Yuanqing, the CEO of Lenovo, a gigantic computer company in China, gave up his $3 million bonus so it could be distributed to Lenovo’s lowest paid workers. Split amongst 10,000 employees, the manufacturing workers each got a bonus of the equivalent of 317 U.S. dollars. That may seem like more of a token of appreciation than a life-altering amount, but it’s more than the average employee’s monthly salary.

Yuanqing explained that he did not feel it appropriate to attribute his company’s recent success to his own efforts. “[The] strength of the company’s business performance [belongs] to workers on the production line,” he said. Though a notable gesture, it’s not necessarily a major sacrifice on his behalf;  Yuanqing still took home about $14 million in overall earnings.

3. Lord Wolfson

For the past two years, CEO Lord Wolfson has passed along his annual bonus to his workers in full. As the head of Next, the UK’s biggest department store chain, he received about 4 million pounds at the end of 2013. Divided between his 20,000 retail employees, the redistributed bonus equals approximately 1.5% of their annual salary.

Union contractors gave Wolfson mixed reviews for this move. “Working people do not want charity,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the department store union in America. “They need guaranteed wages and benefits… They shouldn’t be forced to hope that their employer will have a momentary impulse – a munificent impulse – to share his massive wealth.”

They make a good point, though Wolfson’s actions are ultimately more admirable than just about any other CEO we’ve come across.

94 comments

Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 months ago

thanks for the article.

Donna F.
Donna F.1 years ago

ty--and GREAT comments!

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill1 years ago

nice guys

Christine V.
Christine V.1 years ago

awesome, more CEOs need to do this.

Jonathan Harper
Jonathan Harper1 years ago

noted

BMutiny TCorporationsEvil

Good for those three.
Shows that it can be done - without their families starving or their companies going smash!
Now, THIS OUGHT TO BE MANDATED BY LAW...
and not depend just on the "good will" of three out of thousands of selfish CEOs...

Yup, MANDATED BY LAW. NOT "voluntary".
"That's COMMUNISM!" you say? well, SO BE IT...
It's the LOW-PAID WORKERS that actually PRODUCE the goods that Society needs...
Time to put the PUBLIC GOOD above Private Profit$$$$$...
That "anti-Communist" Ideology has JUST GONE TOO FAR, and look where we are now...
"Privatize everything in sight", "Corporations are People", "Campaign Contribution$$$$$ are Free Speech" -
if this is pure Capitalism, then GIVE ME COMMUNISM... {Socialism, the Public Good, if you want a milder term...}

Sandy G.
sandy g.1 years ago

Very nice, but very, VERY rare.

Paola Ballanti
Paola Ballanti1 years ago

thanks

Julie C.
Julie C.1 years ago

These are the kinds of stories that inspire me. People who have "made" it and understand for whatever reason that they do not stand alone. An unfortunately rare act in our increasingly selfish and divided society.

Joseph Belisle
Joseph Belisle1 years ago

While really do have to applaud these people for their ability to reason and moral resolve but I have to agree with the union people. It shouldn't be a great story to read. It should be a way of life. The highest paid person of any company shouldn't make more than five times the lowest paid person. It takes everyone to run a company. The person in command should make more but what CEOs make is demented and perverse. It's an insult to everyone else.