Male executives receive more in incentive pay, which creates 93 percent of the pay difference between male and female executives.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are approximately just over one million chief executives in management positions in American companies, of which 23 percent are women.
The average salary of a male chief executive is $126,000, while the average salary for a female chief executives is $95,921, which is 76 percent of her male counterpart’s salary.
While gender pay gaps exist in almost every profession (and the Census Bureau offers those states in more than 500 occupations), it seems odd that the pay gap would exist at one of the highest levels of corporate American occupational infrastructure.
But a research team from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York discovered that 93 percent of the difference in total pay between male and female executives stems from disparate incentive pay, usually in the form of stock options and grants. This disparity remained true even when the researchers controlled for factors such as the difference in title, tenure at a firm and age.
Incentive pay comes in the form of monetary bonuses or company equity in the form of stock options. Such pay rises and falls based on the company’s performance.
The research suggests that if a company’s value increases by $1 million, a male executive is likely to be compensated by a $17,000 increase in incentive pay. A woman’s increase averages only to $1,670, less than 10 percent of what the male gets. On the other hand, a 1 percent decline in the firm’s value sees a 63 percent in firm-specific wealth for a woman executive while a man’s compensation would fall only 33 percent.
"Overall, changes in firm performance penalize female executives while they favor male executives," the paper said. The researchers said there was no corresponding difference in firm performance based on the gender of the executives involved.
In reporting on the research findings, Bloomberg News suggests that male executives have a larger and wider power base, with greater influences on board members and more power based on the threat of leaving the firm.
The paper authors suggest that organizations need to have greater transparency in pay and financial rewards given to employees at all levels, including the C-Suite. “Increasing transparency in general in an organization but specifically with how your pay is set relative to others in similar positions is going to be helpful," said report author Stefania Albanesi. She notes that the pay gap is exacerbated as an executive climbs the ladder.
“The accumulation is going to be there even when women get promoted, and also possibly if you move to another firm because usually your past compensation is used in some degree," Albanesi said. "These differences can be very, very persistent.''
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York data came from Standard & Poor’s ExecuComp, which collects data on the compensation of top executives in firms belonging to the S&P 500, the S&P Midcap 400 and the S&P SmallCap 600. Those firms report compensation for the top one to 15 executives.
The data used ran from 1992 to 2005, stopping in 2006 due to a disclosure reform bill passed by Congress in 2006 that changed reporting of several forms of incentive pay, making the statistics before 2006 and after 2007 incomparable.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.