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.

Comments

  • Guest

    I support this decision by Microsoft and I applaud the board for endorsing this move. Our executives work hard to maintain Microsoft’s market-leading positions in many industries and we want to see them compensated fairly.

    • Guest

      Their. I meant their executives, not “our executives.”

      • Guesty

        You are a Microsoft executive and yet you have trouble posting a comment on the internet without revealing this fact … a comment calling out the fine work of Microsoft executives working hard nonetheless.  

        Let me guess: you became an executive during the dot com bubble, threatening to leave MS to start your own pet food delivery website unless you got an executive-level title? Am I warm? 

        • Guest

          You don’t read very well.

    • Guest

      Ballmer aside, nothing I’ve seen suggests that MS’s senior executives are being paid less than other top competitors. In fact if you look at their insider selling, which is at sickening levels, most are making far more than even Apple’s leadership. Which, when you think about it, is absurd given the difference in profit growth and stock return that Apple’s team has delivered year in and year out for a decade versus MS’s.

      So this is a straw-man argument.

    • Guest

      Ballmer aside, nothing I’ve seen suggests that MS’s senior executives are being paid less than other top competitors. In fact if you look at their insider selling, which is at sickening levels, most are making far more than even Apple’s leadership. Which, when you think about it, is absurd given the difference in profit growth and stock return that Apple’s team has delivered year in and year out for a decade versus MS’s.

      So this is a straw-man argument.

  • Guest

    Another attempt by MS to treat shareholders like morons and attempt to shift focus away from performance (competitively and stock wise) and put it on pay, where they feel more comfortable defending their relative record.

    What’s adequate pay for losing the mobile and tablets markets that MS had a ten year head start in? For allowing the “post PC era” to be defined and led by others? For taking three years to respond to iPhone? For what will be nearly three before the first W8 tablets compete against iPad? For allowing Apple, a company that spends 1/8th as much on R&D, to now be larger, more profitable, more valuable, and growing 7x faster than MS? For continuing to generate such little confidence in the company’s future that the stock has been dead for more than a decade?

    What shareholders should do is vote out Ballmer and the board.

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