At Microsoft’s annual meeting next month, the company’s shareholders will hold an advisory vote weighing in on the company’s executive compensation — giving either a thumbs up or a thumbs down overall.
It’s the second “say on pay” vote since the company instituted the practice in 2009, following the national corporate trend. Separately this year, shareholders will also be asked if they’d like to have these votes annually. Microsoft’s board — which originally wanted the votes to be held every third year — is now advising shareholders to endorse the new schedule so they can vote on pay every year.
“We continue to believe there are valid arguments for a variety of vote frequencies depending on a company’s specific circumstances,” writes John Seethoff, Microsoft vice president and deputy general counsel, in a blog post this morning. “Nevertheless, considering input we have received in our shareholder outreach and the preference evident from voting results at other large companies, we recommend shareholders vote to hold the say-on-pay vote every year.”
It doesn’t hurt that more than 99 percent gave a thumbs up to compensation in the 2009 vote.
Of the executives named in Microsoft’s recent proxy statement, Kevin Turner, Microsoft’s chief operating officer, was the highest-paid, with $9.28 million in salary, bonus and stock awards in fiscal 2011. CEO Steve Ballmer, who doesn’t accept annual stock awards, received a salary of $682,500, up about 2 percent, and a bonus of the same amount, bringing his total compensation to $1.365 million.