Why we’re tying executive compensation to our sustainability priorities

March 24, 2021 | By Michael Miebach

In recent months and years, we've seen and participated in unprecedented dialogue around some of the most critical issues facing our society: climate change, discrimination and social justice, and the wealth and opportunity gap among them. Calls for change. Commitments to do more, to be better.

We're proud of the steps this company and its employees have taken to speak up and speak out and, importantly, to drive meaningful action toward rebuilding an inclusive and sustainable digital economy and fostering a more equitable world: Our pledge to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, our recent sustainability bond offering, our In Solidarity action plan to combat racism, and our ongoing work to bring 1 billion people and 50 million micro and small businesses into the digital economy by 2025, to name just a few recent examples.

We have embedded inclusion, sustainability, and decency into the heart of our business – blending purpose and profit. By bringing our innovation, insights, and ingenuity to the table, along with philanthropy, we’ve become leaders on advancing financial inclusion and inclusive growth around the world.  Now, we're taking another important step that underscores our shared commitments--and our shared accountability, which starts at the top.

To help accelerate progress toward our sustainability goals, we are making changes to our executive compensation model. Specifically, we are linking compensation for our most senior executives, EVPs and above, to Mastercard’s Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) initiatives, and to three global ESG priorities: carbon neutrality, financial inclusion, and gender pay parity.

The purpose of our incentive compensation programs is to encourage and reward performance that helps us achieve our goals — financial goals, of course, as well as strategic goals that lay the foundation for our future success.

We believe these ESG goals, which our senior leaders have the ability – and responsibility – to influence, will help our business grow and thrive for years to come. This change further reinforces our commitment to deepen our culture of inclusion, and ensure people can reach their potential, economic growth is inclusive, and the planet can thrive.

We’ve seen firsthand how our commitment to environmental and social responsibility – and our core values of operating ethically, responsibly and with decency – is directly connected to our continuing success as a business. This is our starting point, and we will continue to evolve, expand and adapt these priorities to ensure they address the changing marketplace and our corporate objectives.

Looking ahead, we’ll continue to do what is right - driving forward the change needed for the collective good of our business, our employees, and all our stakeholders.

This is what doing well by doing good is all about.


*On November 1, 2021, Mastercard announced the acceleration of its net zero timeline by a decade, from 2050 to 2040.

Photo of Michael Miebach
Michael Miebach, CEO