This has not been a great year for the image of chief executive officers, from Uber’s Travis Kalanick to Yahoo’s Marissa Meyer (who did her best to run the company into the ground—during her tenure a billion users had their personal information exposed—forcing her to walk away with a mere $186 million payout).
It’s enough to give CEOs a bad name.
While it isn’t necessary to shed a tear for these businessfolk—turns out obscene wealth is a solid balm for a bruised ego—some of them are proving there is a better way. With that in mind, here are five CEOs who might actually be worth a fraction of what they are paid.
1. Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway
Beverly Hills, Monaco, Omaha. Yes, these are three communities associated with the rich and famous, because Buffett still lives in the Nebraska home he purchased in 1958 for $31,500—about $270,000 today. It’s a sensible price for any homebuyer, particularly one worth an estimated $78 billion. Buffett has famously vowed to give away 99 percent of his money and along with Bill Gates created a trend of billionaires pledging to donate to charity 50 percent or more of their fortunes.
2. Dan Price, Gravity
There has been a great deal of debate and controversy about the true reasons Price established a minimum salary for $70,000 for each of his 120 employees. Whatever his motivations may have been, this is the bottom line: May all corporate scheming result in people being fairly paid.
3. Joe Gibbs, Former Washington Head Coach/President and Joe Gibbs Racing President/Owner
OK, technically not a CEO, but whether in football or with his championship NASCAR team, this man’s a boss. Very few people have won three Super Bowls. None have done it while being so damned nice. As star defensive end Dexter Manley said: ”He was a fair man. He was a good man… Joe Gibbs would never embarrass a player publicly. If you did something or didn’t do your job, he’d call you into the office and sit down with you. He’d treat you like a man… He was just a different kind of guy.”
4. Reed Hastings, Netflix
His unlimited parental leave policy was originally praised for its generosity (yay!) before being critiqued for not applying to hourly workers (boo!) before earning another round of praise after it was extended to them as well (emotional rollercoaster!). And yes, realistically most workers won’t be able to step away from work for months on end, but it’s nice first-time parents don’t have to scream: “Let’s wrap this up, Doc: The board meeting starts in 10 minutes!”
5. Jerry Stritzke, REI
Not working holidays can be a dilemma: Sure, you want to spend time with your family… but you also want the dough. REI addressed this concern by shutting down on Black Friday but still paying 12,000 employees. Stritzke attempted to spread the holiday spirit to other companies by blasting Macy’s decision to stay open: “Retail is tough today, but you have to stand for something—not just ‘come buy stuff.'”
Try to remember these five the next time you’re watching Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.
Photo: Getty Images/J. Kempin/Contributor