Women still making less than men at executive level, but gap shrinking

Women who climb their way to corporate America’s highest ranks are still paid less than their male counterparts, according to a study of corporate disclosures from financial services firm Morningstar Inc.

Reuters reports that among companies in the Russell 3000 index, which includes most of the investable U.S. stock market, the highest paid women earned 84.6 cents for every dollar earned by male counterparts in 2019, up from 81.5 cents in 2015. 

Study author Jackie Cook says the narrower difference pointed to progress that should continue as companies file disclosures in coming weeks showing 2020 compensation.

But the persistent gap reflects a lack of top female leaders and how those now in place often hold lower-paid posts like heads of marketing or human resources. To change, companies must add more women at all levels to maintain a diverse pool for promotions, she says.   

Her analysis traced five years of pay disclosures by 2,384 Russell 3000 companies from 2015 to 2019. Most recently, women held just 12% of the ‘named executive officer’ positions, up from 9% in 2015. At companies in the sample, 47% had at least one woman in their top ranks in 2019, up from 35% in 2015.

The female executives were still well paid, with median compensation of $1.76 million in 2019, and their gap with male counterparts narrowed faster than did the pay gap for working women overall. Read the full story.