CEO role losing some luster

At one point, rising to the CEO position was considered the pinnacle of success in business. Now, a combination of factors has people setting out for other seats in C-suites.

In the corporate world, Fortune has found some up-and-comers do not yearn to hold the position of CEO. Industrywide, factors that contribute toward the loss of luster for the chief executive job include intensified difficulty with labor as strikes are on the rise, the political climate, the pressures of being the public face of a firm, and increased pay for executives surrounding the CEO. 

CFOs have seen the greatest pay boosts, Fortune found in its analysis of Equilar data. Among the 10 companies in the Fortune 20 that shared the salaries of both CEO and CFO over the past 10 years, the CFO pay rose from an average of 34 percent of the CEO's pay in 2012 to 44 percent of the CEO's pay in 2022. 

General counsels have also seen pay increases. Among the three companies in the Fortune 20 that could be compared over the past 10 years, the general counsel's pay as a percentage of the CEO's pay grew from an average of 18 percent to 34 percent. 

Pay increases for jobs surrounding the CEO may be due to change in the scope of work, more job-hopping or negotiations that come with executive mobility, governance involvement in the narrowing of C-suite pay gaps, and less scrutiny of pay compared to CEOs. 

"Certainly there are outlandish pay packages," Alan Johnson, a compensation consultant who focuses on financial executives, told Fortune. "But when you're getting beat on, the focus is almost always on the CEO. No one asks about the No. 2, 3, or 4 job." 

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