Unilever CEO: My salary is too much, money shouldn't motivate leaders

Unilever CEO Paul Poman thinks there is a obscene excess in salary handed to chief executives of businesses these days. "I am ashamed of the amount of money I earn," Polman told the Washington Post in an interview.

For 2014, the value of his pay package was approximately ten million euros.

People at the top executive level should not be motivated by salary, according to the CEO. "If you would pay me double, I am not going to work twice as much, because I'm already probably maximizing my time available," he commented.

Polman froze his pay during the period of economic recession. He said in the interview he was also opposed to the idea of his pay rising higher now. "The board is trying to change the compensation and move it up, and we have steadfastly refused to do that. Not for heroic reasons, but I think there has to be some sanity."

The current CEO pay system drives dysfunctional behavior in many companies, in the view of Polman. "People think if they don't get a salary increase, or if they don't earn a lot of money, they are not being seen as good performing CEOs." Companies set salaries in the top percentile assuming it is going to attract the best CEO, which then starts a race to the top, according to Polman.

The executive does not believe that authorities should regulate the pay of top management. He suggests that more can be achieved by setting the right example.

Polman said in the interview that just being a CEO does not constitute success. "I think the most important thing is to achieve what you set out to achieve," said Polman. "I would not related success to a title or a position."