It's 'Fat Cat Thursday' — The Day Top CEOs Will Already Have Out-Earned The Rest of Us
It’s not as cute as it sounds.
Like many of us hitting Twitter today, on “Fat Cat Thursday”, you might have thought you were about to sit back and enjoy some pictures of hilariously rotund felines.
Tragically, that’s not the case.
If you’re reading this at work, we’re sorry, but “Fat Cat Thursday” actually refers to the day by which the UK’s top earning CEOs have already been paid the same amount as the average British worker will get in a whole year.
Yes. That’s right. The chief executives of the FTSE 100 — the top 100 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange — have probably already earned more than you will for the rest of the year. And it feels great doesn’t it.
The average FTSE 100 boss earned £4.5 million last year — which actually fell from the £5.4 million average salary in 2016 — putting their annual salary at around 120 times the UK average of £28,758.
Based on the assumption that they work 12-hour days, most weekends, and take just 19 days holiday a year, that would mean they’re earning an average of £898 per hour.
That’s 256 times the minimum wage for apprentices (£3.50 an hour), and 222 times the minimum wage for under-18s.
“Does anyone really think these fat cats deserve 100 times more than the hard-working people who prop up their business empires? Workers who have to scrimp and save to feed their families and put a roof over their head — and like most of Britain’s working population will now be feeling the pinch after the festive period?” said Tim Roache, the general secretary of the GMB union, describing the gap as “simply obscene.”
The analysis was carried out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the High Pay centre, and is based on figures from 2016.
It found that bosses only need to work 32 hours — taking them to lunchtime on Jan. 4, assuming they start work on Jan. 2 — to reach the annual salary of the average full-time employee.
Stefan Stern, the director of the High Pay Centre thinktank, said “there are still grossly excessive and unjustifiable gaps between the top and rest of the workforce.”
And, despite the fact top bosses’ pay fell by a fifth last year, the gap between their pay and workers’ pay has more than tripled in 20 years.
The minimum wage for over-25s in the UK is set to rise from £7.50 to £7.83 on April 1, although some campaigners are now calling for it to be raised to £10.
The analysis named Sir Martin Sorrell as the highest paid chief executive, based on 2016 figures, after he was paid £48 million by advertising firm WPP. In 2015, he was paid £70 million.
The analysis has prompted calls for a rethink on the nature of CEO rewards, based on the impact that businesses have on wider society.
Free-market think tank the Adam Smith Institute, however, warned that cutting down on CEO pay could mean that British businesses would lose out on top talent to the US and Europe, and “British workers and savers will pay the price.”
On a global scale, the inequality in wealth is even more severe — with the richest 1% of the population owning more than half of the world’s wealth.
According to a global finance report released in November, around $140 trillion is sitting in the pockets of the ultra wealthy, while over 3.5 billion people who live on less than $10,000 a year own only about 2.7% of global wealth.
“There is growing consensus that economic growth is not sufficient to reduce poverty if it is not inclusive and if it does not involve the three dimensions of sustainable development — economic, social, and environmental,” the UN says on its website.
Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the UN Global Goals, including for reduced inequalities. You can join us by taking action here.
P.S. If you were feeling disappointed by the significant lack of actual fat cats, here's a little something: