Principled Profit: The Good Business Blog

Musings on the world-wide movement for ethical business, frugal marketing, and how honesty, integrity, and quality combine with deep relationship building to create business success. By the originator of the Ethical Business Pledge campaign and award-winning author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First and five other books

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Monday, April 17, 2006

A Very Different CEO Waives His Compensation, Rewards Differently

A few quotes from Robert J. Shillman, Chairman and CEO of a phenomenally successful company, Cognex Corp. of Natick, Massachusetts--as interviewed in the April 10 Wall Street Journal by Joann S. Lublin.

We never paid starting bonuses. It's morally corrupt.

The most important thing the package includes is a great place to work. [And] I am going to give you a bonus and options package that will hopefully make you a multimillionaire someday. If you are coming for the short term, I don't want you here.

The 15-year perseverance award is a trip for you and your spouse to one of the wonders of the world, like the Great Wall of China. All you do is show up. You get $1,000 in spending money and an extra week vacation.

For 25 years' service, we set up a charitable-gift account and make the employee the trustee. We put $25,000 in, and they can contribute it to any IRS-approved charity anytime in any amount. I want them to feel the joy of giving...How many people get to be a philanthropist? Most people never give away $25,000 in a lifetime. I care more about morale below the top.

Remarkable from anyone. Particularly remarkable from the CEO of a very profitable technology company. The whole article is full of wonderful stuff about his attitude toward employee and executive compensation, and how his goal in starting the company was to make a difference in the world. It's not just rhetoric, either. When he felt he had enough "toys" in his life--"So I've been able to go out and buy a big house, fast cars and some pieces of art. I also have donated more than $17.5 million worth of shares to charitable causes"--he stopped taking compensation and has his substantial package donated to charity.

All I can say is "Wow!" and "Bravo!" Somehow I don't think we'll see him in court facing ethics violations changes any time soon.


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