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NEW YORK—April 23, 2020—How the COVID-19 pandemic will ultimately impact director pay is not yet clear, but according to a new survey from executive compensation consultancy Pearl Meyer, at this juncture, more than half (55%) of companies are moving forward with their director pay as planned. The survey found that 19% of companies have made temporary cuts to director pay, while 17% intend to move ahead with proposed director pay increases. Only 14% of respondents appear to be further evaluating the effect of the pandemic and are still considering changes to director pay.

"Not surprisingly, our survey found the majority of director pay cuts thus far are in industries most impacted by COVID-19 such as energy, transportation, and hospitality," said Jannice Koors, senior managing director and Western region president at Pearl Meyer. "However, as the economic uncertainty and fallout continues, we could see changes to director pay extend to other industries. Companies need to plan for the future, and boards may consider actions to manage cash, contain costs, and acknowledge the economic hardship felt by their key stakeholders."

Among companies that have cut director pay in response to COVID-19, many respondents (40%) did not know how long the adjustments would last. Companies that have an anticipated timeline typically think the adjustments will last longer than three months, but less than one year (38%). Because of the uncertainty associated with the pandemic, 70% of respondents are still unsure if the initial adjustment period will need to be extended.

The Pearl Meyer survey found that nearly half (48%) of companies have no plans to make any changes to their annual director equity grant value or methodology. Among companies that intend to adjust this year’s director equity grants, the most common approaches are to modify the share price used to determine the number of shares (9%) or to decrease the equity grant by the same amount as the annual cash retainer (4%). The survey found that 20% are still deciding if they will adjust equity grants in light of COVID-19.

Conducted from 4/14/2020 to 4/16/2020, the survey had 315 respondents (230 publicly traded companies, 71 private firms, and 14 not-for-profit organizations). Full results of the survey are here:


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Pearl Meyer is the leading advisor to boards and senior management helping organizations build, develop, and reward great leadership teams that drive long-term success. Our strategy-driven compensation and leadership consulting services act as powerful catalysts for value creation and competitive advantage by addressing the critical links between people and outcomes. Our clients stand at the forefront of their industries and range from emerging high-growth, not-for-profit, and private organizations to the Fortune 500.

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