Scrutiny of Gender Disparities in Compensation: At the Executive Level and Below


Originally published in Pension & Benefits Daily on 07/18/2012.

This article examines some of the laws that prohibit gender-based pay disparities, the Obama administration’s attention to this important issue, and a prediction about what to expect in the coming years.

By most reports, fewer women than men occupy the C-suite and those that do are paid less than their male counterparts. In its recently published 2012 S&P 500 CEO Pay Study, a leading provider of executive compensation data, Equilar Inc., reported that only 12 of the 500 chief executive officers in this year’s study were women. Although the average total shareholder return (TSR) for the companies run by the female CEOs far exceeded that of the companies run by men (2.7 percent for women compared with 0.2 percent for men), the women were paid an average of almost $500,000 per year less than their male counterparts. A similar study conducted by GMI Ratings, a corporate governance consulting firm, analyzed the salaries of more than 1,900 chief financial officers and found that female CFOs were paid an average of 16 percent less than their male counterparts of similar age at companies with comparable market values.

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