At least one municipality isn't waiting for the federal government to tackle the issue. The city of Portland, Oregon is undertaking an effort to rein in — or at least capitalize on — excessive CEO pay with a novel tax plan the city council voted on earlier this month.
Companies doing business in the city with a CEO-to-median-worker pay ratio of more than 100 will be subject to an additional 10 percent tax, which climbs to 25 percent for companies whose CEOs make 250 times as much as a typical employee.
"So far we haven't seen other municipalities actively pursue legislation like this," said Brian Kropp, human resources practice leader at CEB. But he added that other places might try something similar if Portland's experiment — which is expected to raise up to $3.5 million a year for city coffers — is a success.
Blue-state municipalities in coastal states would be the most likely adopters, Kropp said.
Historically, CEOs earned about 20 times as much as a typical worker, but that number crept up, gradually at first and then more rapidly within the last two decades. A PayScale analysis of CEO pay found that the average corporate chief earns about 70 times what the median worker makes.
Other estimates put the disparity even higher. A Glassdoor analysis of CEO pay at S&P 500 companies found that the average corporate chief earned 204 times median worker pay in 2014. The Economic Policy Institute calculated that the typical CEO made 276 times more than a worker at the median last year, although it did find that this is actually an improvement: It's down from 302 the year before. Organized labor giant AFL-CIO's "executive paywatch" calculates that the average CEO to median worker pay ratio was 331 in 2013.
"What we're seeing, historically, is that ratio is still getting bigger," Kropp said.
For the future, many expect the SEC's push for increased transparency to be scuttled, in keeping with Donald Trump's promise to roll back regulations of all types, but this might not wind up letting CEOs off the hook entirely.
"Their expectation is that the Dodd-Frank legislation will be changed somehow and a lot of them at this point believe that part of the legislation will be taken out," Kropp said of his corporate clients.
"The other reason why they believe now that it's likely to be pulled out is when you look at the cabinet Trump is putting together, there are a lot of billionaires, a lot of CEOs," Kropp said.
"It seems to me that the pressure is going to abate. There's going to be less scrutiny," Challenger predicted.