Pictured: Emma Walmsley, CEO, GSK
A new, comprehensive study finds that female and male chief executives of public companies are paid about the same. “No “significant difference” exists, concluded the authors of “Revisiting the Gender Gap in CEO Compensation.” The in-depth report looked at compensation for corporate leaders at 2,282 companies from 1996 to 2014 to arrive at this unexpected finding.
The report’s researchers suggest that the CEO gender pay gap may have closed up because chief executives of public companies are now prominent figures. “We think it is a visibility issue,” co-author Vishal K. Gupta told the NY Times. “It [the role] is highly visible to all the stakeholders.” As CEOs increasingly serve as “the face” of a company, the investment in the position becomes significant, whether the chief executive is male or female.
The finding does not examine why there are so few female CEOs: 32 among Fortune 500 companies, or 6.4 percent of the list, as of mid-2017. This number compares to a workforce of business professionals that is made up of a majority of women. Ironically, the relatively low number was hailed as record-breaking by Fortune: “the 2017 ranking includes more female chiefs than any previous list since the first Fortune 500 ran in 1955.” It was also noted that the previous year’s total of female CEOs was 21, so that 32-count benchmark represented an increase of more than 50 percent over 2016.
The new study also does not examine why women earned 82 percent compared to men’s earnings last year, according to a Pew Research Center report, “The Narrowing, but Persistent, Gender Gap in Pay.”
The CEO compensation picture is not as rosy in the nonprofit sector. A recent study of organizations finds that there are more female chief executives than male, but women are paid up to 21 percent less in nonprofits with budgets larger than $50 million, according to GuideStar’s “2017 Nonprofit Compensation Report.”
John Howell, Chief of Thought Leadership and Editorial Director, is a co-founder of 3BL Media, the parent company of Triple Pundit, begun in 2009. Howell oversees original editorial content procurement and creation. He is also the author of the weekly Brands Taking Stands Newsletter. He has written and edited for Elle, Artforum, High Times, the New York Times Magazine, and the LA Times. Howell is based in Wonalancet, NH.