$500,000 pay common in SMEs

The West Australian, July 19, 2016:

Nearly a quarter of the bosses of Australia’s small and medium-sized businesses are pocketing at least $500,000 in annual pay, according to the surprising findings of a new survey.

The Bankwest Business Leadership report, which also identified concerns around leadership burnout, found that one in 10 company chiefs draw $1 million or more in salary a year.

Not unexpectedly, the better pay is weighted to the bigger businesses, with more than a third (35.7 per cent) of medium- sized businesses — those with annual turnover of between $2 million and $250 million — paying $500,000 or more for the services of their “top leader”.

More surprising was the finding that 14.5 per cent of businesses with less than $2 million in turnover are paying their bosses more than $400,000. Of those, 8 per cent are paying between $500,000 and $1.5 million, says the report, which is based on a survey of 500 managers.

The great majority (65 per cent) of small businesses, however, paid less than $200,000.

Information, media and telecommunications companies paid the biggest rewards, with 37.5 per cent of businesses in those fields likely to pay their bosses a $500,000 salary. Accommodation and food-services businesses are least likely (22.5 per cent) to do the same.

Disturbingly, the Bankwest report also found that 72 per cent of small-to-medium business enterprises (SMEs) were at risk of leadership burnout. “Reasons cited included inadequate staffing and resourcing, a tougher business environment, compliance pressure and greater client expectations,” Bankwest said.

The research also confirmed the slow pace of improvements in gender diversity across Australian business.

Just 31 per cent of businesses have improved the representation of women in senior management over the past two years, with 48.2 per cent of female managers saying they had been overlooked in the past because of their gender.

Also, nearly 22 per cent of respondents reported an increase in the proportion of openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in senior roles during the period.