25 Apr 2016
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Michael Darrington (PMD 27, 1974) believes in putting people first. As CEO of Greggs, which he led for 24 years to become the United Kingdom’s baking industry leader and in previous positions where he oversaw strategic turnarounds. He has consistently implemented a code of values, protected his workforce, streamlined operations, and grown business. At Greggs, his policy of putting employees first was initially criticized by shareholders, but the approach yielded positive results for all and illustrated the benefits of investing in workers.

Darrington also noticed with discomfort the trend in increasing executive remuneration. “It seemed the payouts at the top were massive and they weren’t warranted,” he says. “Meanwhile, 95 percent of the workforce was getting an annual salary increase of inflation plus one percent.”

When he retired from Greggs, where he had been known to turn down his own pay rise, Darrington launched Pro Business Against Greed, an organization fighting inequity in corporate compensation models. “I am a believer in capitalism,” he says proudly, “and I also believe that big bonuses breed bad behavior.” Knighted by Queen Elizabeth for his advocacy, he now focuses on his crusade for transparency and against excessive compensation.

“It comes down to treating people the way you would like to be treated yourself,” he says.

(Published April 2016)

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