Women in CEO jobs hit median pay of $16M in 2021, but numbers lag

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NEW YORK – Pay packages for the women who run S&P 500 companies jumped in 2021 as the economy recovered and stock prices and profits soared.

Median pay for the women occupying the corner office rose to nearly $16 million, according to the annual survey done by Equilar for The Associated Press. Still, experts say gender diversity falls short in the corporate ranks.

Jane Stevenson, vice chair, Board & CEO Services at organizational consulting firm Korn Ferry, said that while it is good that women CEOs’ pay rose, much remains to be done. “I think the danger is to look at those cases of CEOs making more their peers and see a message about the pay gap being closed – it’s not,” she said.

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Only 18 of 340 S&P 500 companies surveyed were led by women last year.

Number of female CEOs is small

Of the 340 CEOs in the latest survey of S&P 500 companies, 18 were women, up from 16 in 2020. Profits for S&P 500 companies rose roughly 50% and the index gained about 27%. Because the bulk of a CEO’s compensation is tied to such performance, their pay packages ballooned after years of mostly moderating growth.

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