Thursday, April 6, 2017

It’s a good time to be a Samsung executive, apparently

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Samsung might have lost a load of money on the Galaxy Note 7, might have just been fined $11 million for patent infringement, and might soon owe Apple in the region of half a billion bucks. But it’s still managing to pay its senior staff well.


The Korea Herald has today shared some data on Samsung employee salaries and how they have changed over the last ten years. Specifically, annual income to executives is said to have doubled in the last ten years, while the gender pay gap has been reduced. Not bad for a company in the midst of what has frequently been called a crisis, with various high profile execs in hot water.


An executive at the company is said to have earned an average of 107 million Korean Won ($94,400) last year, up from 50 million in 2005. Meanwhile, “male workers” — who The Korea Herald didn’t categorize, so we have no idea of their position — earned 116 million KRW last year while female workers earned 81 million KRW.




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This compares to 2005 when men working at Samsung Korea earned an average of 60 million KRW per year, and females earned an average of 32 million KRW. This means females are now paid almost 70% as much as males, up from just over 50% in 2005. Hooray for gender (almost) equality.


Samsung employees are also reportedly staying at the company longer now compared to ten years ago. Samsung workers in 2016 had stayed at the company for an average of ten years, up four years from the average taken in 2005.


Female employees are now paid almost 70% as much as males, up from just over 50% in 2005.



A few things that I think should be understood about this report is that, firstly, the information was presumably given to The Korea Herald by Samsung. I’m not saying this means it’s inaccurate, but it would be in Samsung’s best interest to release information that makes them look good as an employer.


Secondly, it’s little surprise that Samsung would pay its executives better now compared to 2005. The company has enjoyed significant success in the past ten years, its operating profit is up from 7.5 billion KRW to almost 30 billion KRW. Senior management would naturally stand to benefit from that the most, right? Like, the guy driving the warehouse forklift probably isn’t getting paid double what he used to, is he?




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Third, there might be an incentive to pay South Korean executives particularly well. It’s a family owned corporation, one of South Korea’s powerful Chaebols, run by a man who was recently linked to arrested on charges of corruption. Of course, Lee Jae-yong only stands accused and his guilt or innocence is yet to be determined. But, if you were the corrupt boss of a mega-corporation, you might be inclined to make sure those underneath you were well-compensated.


If you were the corrupt boss of a mega-corporation, you might be inclined to make sure those underneath you were well-compensated.



That said, the limited information on company review site Glass Door does seem to indicate that Samsung employees are paid well — it’s the main positive of all the reviews, while work/life balance seems to be the biggest negative (these appear to be aggregated across reviews from all regions). Incidentally, Samsung’s average rating as an employer appears similar in the US and South Korea, at 3.5 stars and 3.4 stars respectively.


What are your thoughts on this story? What do you think working for Samsung would be like? Let us know in the comments.

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