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Travelling light – How organisations can benefit from executive restraint and transparency

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Alan Jones, director at Averta Employment Lawyers, discusses how organisations can benefit from restraint and transparency, when it comes to senior executive pay and benefits:

Executive pay and benefits continue to come under the spotlight, with business leaders, politicians, customers and even students calling for greater restraint and transparency on pay, benefits and bonuses.

Earlier this year the Institute of Directors (IoD), who represent business executives in the UK called for “greater transparency and accountability over executive pay” and ongoing outrage over University Vice Chancellors’ large salaries was amplified by reports that they were claiming on expenses items such as Easter eggs, scented candles, fresh flowers and even a “pornstar Martini”.

Whilst there is obvious public distaste for senior managers who abuse their expense accounts or receive large bonuses for poor performance, there can also be commercial damage.   The negative impact to the reputation of Bath University, after it was revealed that the Vice Chancellor of Bath University was paid nearly £470,000, resulted in 6% fewer students applying for places at Bath the following year.

In the midst of this, you have to admire Eddie Jones for his “common touch”. There he is in a position of national prominence, CEO of a multi-million-pound high profile (sporting) business, and he travels by standard class train from Edinburgh to Manchester the day after England have been thrashed by a resurgent Scottish rugby team. Not many senior executives would travel, alone, in the same carriage as many of his “customers” or “stakeholders” (some of whom were apparently hostile scots).  Most would choose to either travel in the refined and relative security of first class or, more likely, a chauffeur driven car from Murrayfield to home.

He may not be everybody’s favourite rugby character, but he sets an outstanding example for other leaders of industry. Sadly, as has been well publicised, the journey did not go well, as it appears that he was pilloried if not physically abused by a small number of so called “fans” and has pledged never to travel in that way again.

Nevertheless, other industry leaders could learn a lesson. Unless they have a similarly high profile to Eddie (and are therefore subject to public awareness), they could easily set a shining example to their colleagues by travelling in the same way that most people do.

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