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Lessons from the pirates: Compensation and corporate benefits

By Danielle Walsh

The pirates had very clear rules in place regarding how each member of the crew would be compensated. Family businesses should do the same!
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Captain John Phillips’ pirate code of conduct includes the following mandates:

“1. Every man shall obey civil command; the captain shall have one full share and a half in all prizes; the master, carpenter, boatswain and gunner shall have one share and quarter.

2. Ye officers will receive each a single share, and if ye distinguishes yourself, the crew will determine how much reward to be given to ye.

3. If ye lose an eye, or hand or leg in ye said service, ye shall receive up to … six hundred crowns.”

When you look at the pirates’ rules relating to compensation, it becomes apparent they left very little room for questions or conflict. The compensation was clearly stated for all positions onboard, and it was crystal clear the captain receives 1.5 times as much as the crew. Further, when the pirates got onboard the ship, they knew exactly what to expect if they worked hard and performed well—as well as what to expect if they were hurt ‘on the job.’

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