This excerpt taken from the VZ DEF 14A filed Mar 23, 2009.
Align Executives and Shareholders Interests and Promote Short-Term Performance and Long-Term Growth
To promote a performance-based culture that links the interests of management and shareholders, the Committee has developed a compensation program that focuses extensively on variable, performance-based compensation. The largest portion of compensation is based on performance against challenging pre-established metrics and the smallest portion is based on fixed compensation (base salary). In addition, the program does not include such fixed compensation elements as guaranteed defined benefit pension and supplemental pension benefits.
In establishing the performance objectives used in the Companys pay-for-performance program, the Committee balances the importance of meeting the Companys short-term business goals with the need to create shareholder value over the longer term. To ensure that the interests of Verizon executives remain closely aligned with the interests of its shareholders, long-term compensation opportunities represent more than three times the compensation opportunities related to short-term performance. In addition, the Committee has attempted to structure the compensation program and the performance metrics to discourage executives from taking undue business risks to meet performance targets.
In motivating executives to achieve short- and long-term goals, the Committee has established incentive awards that are earned based on the Companys performance over one- and three-year periods. After considering a variety of data including the practices of its peers, trends and input from large institutional investors, the Committee determined that Verizons short-term compensation opportunities should continue to be based upon Verizons stand-alone performance against absolute goals, while Verizons long-term compensation opportunities should continue to be based upon Verizons performance relative to peer companies.