Composition of the board of directors

Shareholder groups monitor the makeup of the board, how board members are chosen, and how many members serving on the board are truly independent — meaning that they're not directly involved in the day-to-day operations of the company. Outsiders prefer that a majority of the board members be independent because independent board members can be more objective (they aren't protecting their own jobs and their own income).

CEOs get better raises

Most working Americans would be delighted if they received pay raises anywhere near the ones that CEOs got in 2007. According to Executive Pay Watch, the average total compensation for a Fortune 500 CEO was $14.2 million. That's up from $10.8 million in 2006. You can check out how much the CEOs of companies you're interested in tracking are paid at the Executive Pay Watch database, run by the AFL-CIO online ( corporatewatch/paywatch/pay/ index.cfm).

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