The excessive executive bonus seems to be a purely American tradition. And, as should be the case, the practice finally is under scrutiny from the government and the public.
So it’s little surprise that AT&T Inc. (T) CEO Randall Stephenson has decided to forgo his 2008 bonus. We still don’t know the amount of money he’s giving up, since AT&T has yet to file the information with the Securities and Exchange Commission, but the timing of his decision is interesting. Did Stephenson opt out of the extra dough because he doesn’t want to face criticism from shareholders or even federal lawmakers (although Stephenson’s bonus wouldn’t come anywhere close to that of Wall Street bankers’)? Or is it just because it’s the right thing to do in a horrid economy that’s bringing lavishness into sharp relief? Don’t forget, AT&T is cutting 12,000 jobs. What a slap in the face it would be if the CEO were to take a bonus while his employees take meager unemployment.
As an FYI, Stephenson’s 2007 bonus totaled $4.5 million. The CEO also has frozen the salaries of 120,000 AT&T execs and managers.
Other telecom execs ought to follow Stephenson’s lead. The industry is suffering too many layoffs and cutbacks for company heads to feather their nests while workers struggle.