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Ira T. Kay

Managing Partner | New York 800-481-1940

Expertise

Ira T. Kay, a Managing Partner at Pay Governance, is one of the nation's foremost experts on executive compensation. He works closely with the boards and management to help them develop executive compensation programs that increase shareholder value. His clients include premier US and global corporations ranging across various industries, including telecommunications, financial services, retail, defense, technology, consulting, insurance, business services, consumer products, media, food, transportation, among others.

Previous Experience

Prior to becoming a Managing Partner at Pay Governance, Ira served as the global director of Watson Wyatt's Executive Compensation practice for 16 years.

Additional Information

Ira writes and speaks regularly on executive compensation issues. His most recent co-authored book, "Myths and Realities of Executive Compensation", documents the realities of executive pay in the United States and the forces that have shaped pay in recent years. He is also the author of "The Human Capital Edge, CEO Pay and Shareholder Value: Helping the U.S. Win the Global Economic War", and "Value at the Top: Solutions to the Executive Compensation Crisis." Ira has presented analysis of executive compensation issues before the Federal Reserve Board, the S.E.C., the F.A.S.B. and a U.S. Senate subcommittee. He is often quoted in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, The Economist, and other leading publications. His articles have been published in the Harvard Business Review and the McKinsey Quarterly.

Education

Ira holds a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in economics from Wayne State University.


Other Posts by

A Proposed Legislative Alternative to Corporate Governance and the Theory of Shareholder Primacy

On August 15, 2018, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts introduced proposed legislation, the Accountable Capitalism Act, in the U.S. Senate. The legislation would require all U.S. corporations with $1 billion or more in annual revenues to obtain a federal charter as a “United States corporation” and would obligate corporate directors to consider the interests of all corporate stakeholders in their corporate governance activities. Continue reading

Using Incentive Plan Design to Support Strategic and Transformational Change

Incentive plans lie at the heart of the executive pay program, driving and rewarding business strategy execution. This approach has brought great economic success to the clear majority of companies. The typical annual incentive plan and long-term incentive (LTI) mix of multiple award types can capture most regular core performance metrics. A more contemporary design approach may provide significant focus and urgency regarding a company’s strategic transformation, shifting business strategy, or competitive advantage in attracting and retaining talent. Continue reading

The CEO Pay Ratio: How Should Compensation Committees Evaluate Their Ratios? Measuring the Impact of “Median Employee Pay”

In our study of 389 S&P 500 companies, the median CEO pay level is $12.1 million, consistent with many other studies. The median of the “median employee pay” level, as disclosed in the ratio section of the proxies, is $70,129. This latter value has surprised many observers, as it is much higher than expected and — more importantly — 39% higher than the average U.S. private sector salary of $50,620 (142 million employees). This employee pay level was previously unknown. Continue reading

CEO Pay As Governed by Compensation Committees: The Model Works!

Last year, two articles in the Wall Street Journal and Harvard Business Review criticized the overall CEO pay model at U.S. companies. The authors of both articles, Robert Pozen and S. P. Kothari, link their criticisms to shortfalls in executive compensation governance (e.g., poor disclosure, misleading metrics, and selecting inappropriate peer groups) that have been allowed and/or encouraged by Board Compensation Committees. In this article, we address these critiques. Continue reading

Assessing ISS’ Newly Selected GAAP Financial Metrics for CEO P4P Alignment: How Can Companies Respond?

Say on Pay (SOP) and shareholder advisor vote recommendations have caused a dramatic increase in the use of relative total shareholder return (TSR) as a long-term incentive (LTI) plan performance metric. Continue reading

We are pleased to announce: “Pay Governance has Released an Essential New Book on Executive Compensation”

Pay Governance releases an Essential New Book on Executive Compensation. Continue reading

Resisting Homogenization of the Executive Pay Program – Update Motivating the executive team while satisfying shareholders and achieving successful Say on Pay votes

In today’s environment, with annual Say on Pay (SOP) votes, intense external scrutiny and the need to strongly align pay with performance, it is increasingly important for companies to be confident in their executive pay program. The foundation of a sound executive pay program is built on the company’s business strategy and talent needs, which, collectively, must be achieved in order to create shareholder value. Continue reading

The SEC’s Mandated CEO Pay Ratio in the Context of Income Inequality:Perspectives for Compensation Committees

At a recent Compensation Committee meeting, a director remarked, “As we discuss our CEO’s target compensation for next year, we need to remember that there is an ongoing debate about income inequality.” Income inequality and executive compensation are two of the most controversial issues in modern American economic and political discourse. The forthcoming mandated disclosure of the CEO pay ratio will link these two issues directly in the boardroom.

How much of the increase in inequality has been caused by CEO pay, and is this a failure of corporate governance?

This Viewpoint will provide some insights for directors and others into the answers to these questions in the context of the SEC’s mandated disclosure of the ratio of CEO to median employee pay. Continue reading

Press Release-Pay Governance Research Finds Strong CEO Pay-For-Performance Alignment

Our article was recently picked up by World at Work. Visit this link to be redirected to log in to their site. Our article has also been picked up by Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation. … Continue reading

CEO Pay-For-Performance: Highly Aligned When Properly Measured Using Realizable Pay

By Ira Kay, Lane Ringlee, Bentham Stradley, Brian Lane, and Blaine Martin   Partners Aubrey Bout Chris Carstens John R. Ellerman John D. England R. David Fitt Patrick Haggerty Jeffrey W. Joyce Ira T. Kay Donald S. Kokoskie Diane Lerner … Continue reading

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