RIP Seymour Burchman

I was really sad to hear from the US executive compensation firm Semler Brossy about the recent passing of Seymour Burchman. I first researched the topic of Responsible Reward in 2017 for my report ‘Responsible Reward: how to fulfil your ESG promises through performance and pay’ with Bayes Business School. Seymour’s work was one of the few sources of information at the time and he became a great source of inspiration to me.

He had been writing about remuneration and sustainability since the arrival of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. Seymour advocated that Responsible Reward is not just the right thing to do. It is a commercial imperative: to mitigate ESG risks and to create opportunities for new products and services. It improves your brand, and by doing so it attracts more employees, customers, and investors.

He put the emphasis on the ‘why’. Why do your board and senior management embark on linking your sustainability agenda to your remuneration strategy? Without a clear rationale, it’s just a PR exercise that will backfire. Stakeholders will see right through the lack of integrity.

Seymour has written extensively on this topic. I invite you to read an article he wrote with Barry Sullivan in 2017 in the Harvard Business Review: ‘It’s time to tie executive compensation to sustainability’. He frequently highlighted the mis-alignment between objectives horizon, performance periods, and incentive payment frequency, especially in the context of long-term ESG targets.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Seymour with his colleague and long-time friend Blair Jones on my ‘PAYING FOR GOOD’ podcast. Have a listen to the interview.

It is thanks to pioneers like Seymour that we’ve improved our understanding about what we’re paying executives for and made progress on the Global Goals. Thank you, Seymour. I will miss you. RIP.

Remember that whatever sector you’re in and however big or small your organisation is, base pay, incentives, benefits, and pensions are all part of your Responsible Reward offering. By linking your sustainability and remuneration strategies, you become an employer, an investment, and an investor of choice. If you wish to explore this topic further, feel free to book a call with me.