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Under a new law passed this morning by the Securities and Exchange Commission, companies will have to disclose how much more their CEOs earn compared to their average workers.

Pay inequality has been on the political agenda in recent years, as the gap between employees and top brass widens. The average CEO earned 296 times their average worker's salary in 2013, up from a 20-to-1 ratio in 1965, according to a report from the Economic Policy Institute last year.

The rule that should have been passed already under Dodd-Frank, the act that Congress passed to regulate the financial world and corporations after the 2008 recession, but the Securities and Exchange Commission just got around to voting on the law today. Over the last five years, they've received more than 280,000 comments from the public in support of the law. They've also faced a lot of pushback from large corporations, and specifically from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents businesses and industry groups.

"To say that the views on the pay ratio disclosure requirement are divided is an obvious understatement. Since it was mandated by Congress, the pay ratio rule has been controversial, spurring a contentious and, at times, heated dialogue," said SEC Chair Mary Jo White in a statement after the vote today.


The LA Times reports that in a letter to the SEC opposing the law, the Chamber of Commerce wrote:

SEC rules are not meant to serve as an ideological bulletin board for whatever political party happens to be in power, but that is precisely what the authors of the CEO pay ratio rule had in mind; it is intended to help carry the income inequity message.


They argued that CEOs are already required to disclose their salaries and that the ratio is inflexible, without realistically reflecting how businesses decide how much various employees get paid. But the companies against the law did have some influence over its details, NPR reports: There's a provision for companies to exclude some of their overseas employees, and they only have to update the disclosure every three years.

The rule goes into effect on January 1, 2017.