Pay inequalities and cooperatives

Richard Wilkinson was at the Quebec cooperative summit this morning, sharing some of the findings of his pioneering research into (more) equal and less equal societies that first came out in the book The Spirit Level, and also calling for cooperatives and employee-owned businesses to lead the way in developing business models which promote more equality.

Which I guess leads us on to the issue of executive pay in coops, always a prickly topic and one which you won’t be surprised to hear hasn’t been on the agenda  (the report I was told a year ago by organisers of the summit would be commissioned on the subject clearly hasn’t materialised).  Perhaps such a discussion would be deemed unkind to our host Monique Leroux of Desjardins, whose own pay packet (comfortably into 7 figures – well, she is a banker) has in the past raised some controversy in her cooperative.

Not on the agenda then, but three of us (a US cooperator from Seattle and another British delegate) made up for the omission by talking about the topic of executive pay in coops whilst eating our lunch today.  Conclusions?  That pay policies for coops are not necessarily completely straightforward, but that this is an issue which mustn’t be ducked.


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