Report: Female S&P 500 CEOs outrank their male counterparts in compensation

Dive Brief:

  • Female S&P 500 company CEOs who have held their title for at least one year currently outrank their male counterparts in median compensation, The Wall Street Journal reports.
  • While male corporate heads far outnumber women, the median compensation package for the 21 female chiefs was $13.8 million compared to $11.6 million for the 382 male chiefs, according to a WSJ analysis. Even the median total shareholder return was higher for women CEOs than men, at 18.4% versus 15.7%.
  • Three of the highest paid S&P 500 company chiefs are women: Meg Whitman of Hewlett Packard, Virginia Rometty of IBM and Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo.

Dive Insight:

The compensation numbers might surprise equal pay advocates, even though the WSJ is quick to point out that women in CEO roles at top companies have outranked male counterparts in six of the last seven years. Yet, women still make up a small fraction of S&P 500 leaders, indicative of the executive leadership challenge that often goes hand in hand with wage equality.

The study shows that most women rise to the top from within their organizations, rather than being hired externally. To increase the number of women in leadership roles, HR will need to plan from the ground up, building a talent pipeline in-house and ensuring women have leaders to whom they can look for mentorship and other purposes.

Establishing a talent pipeline of executive women can be both an effective and a time-saving recruitment strategy. Studies have shown that once women are in influential positions within organizations, the number of women increases. That also means young women can’t be overlooked for early promotions that influence the trajectory of their careers.

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Gender stereotypes, unfortunately, are still blocking progress for many women on all levels, despite how well they perform. Although they’re critically outnumbered by male company heads, female CEOs can be held up as examples of what women can accomplish if given the chance.