A Practical Guide to Compensation Committee Service: Lessons from the Field

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Compensation Committees are increasingly under external scrutiny with Say on Pay and the recent threats of related shareholder lawsuits related to Say on Pay. For new and incumbent Compensation Committee members, it is more important than ever that they get things “right”. For many directors, service on the Compensation Committee may be somewhat foreign to them. While they may have interacted with the Committee occasionally as an executive, it is unlikely that Compensation was a primary area of their focus. In order to help Committee members learn from the experience of others, we have created this guide to address key aspects of Compensation Committee service. The guide has been developed based on interviews with current and former Compensation Committee chairs at major U.S. public companies, as well as over 100 years of combined experience as consultants advising Compensation Committees on all aspects of executive and director compensation.

The focus of this guide is not on the technical aspects of Executive Compensation design. Instead, our emphasis is on understanding how effective Compensation Committees structure their activities to effectively address their responsibilities. Not all effective Compensation Committees use the same process or approach, but there are key characteristics that they share. In each chapter, we will reference real experiences from our interviews and our experiences as advisors to illustrate what Committees need to do and need to avoid to get it “right”.