Gender Gap in Pay, Recognition and Rewards

Personally, I’m growing a bit tired of hearing about women making less money than men. While channel surfing among cable news stations last night, I came across a feature on the “Gender Pay Gap.” While acknowledging the fact that there is definitely a pay gap in today’s business world, I was surprised how much it differed from one area to another. They shared examples that were all over the map in comparing occupations such as professional athletes, medical personnel, engineers, law, science, etc. The percentage of difference ranged from as little as 29% to as high as 54%!

I’m aware of the fact that I’m not as highly educated as I’d like to be. However, I take great pride in the fact that I’m always trying to learn something new. In fact, I make it a point to learn at least one new thing every single day of my life. In that vein, I’d like to learn the thinking behind the majority of decisions that are made in this area. I realize that there are exceptions to every rule. Setting those few exceptions aside, I’d like to know the answer to the following dilemma:

Two professionals walk into my office.
Similar age. Similar education.
Comparable personality. Comparable attitude.
Similar goals. Similar desire.
Both have very similar leadership experience.
Both are very creative and innovative.
Both have a great track record.
Parallel family situations.
Equivalent potential.
Both appear to be an excellent fit with our culture.

Considering the fact that both candidates would make an equally excellent addition to our team, why would I pay one of them anywhere from 20% to 40% more than the other?

A male candidate does have some very obvious strengths and advantages over women. However, a female candidate has obvious strengths and advantages over men. We’re back to square one and none of those advantages equate to the percentage of difference noted above. I’ve never understood this discrepancy, and I doubt very much that I ever will.

This country has advanced in far too many areas over the decades to allow this travesty to continue. It shouldn’t even be a topic of discussion in this day and age. Instead, maybe we should focus on exposing the growing number of women who are currently successfully leading key organizations across industries. Based on the number of CEOs currently residing behind bars for a variety of reasons, there are obviously some great opportunities available today. The following women have undeniably set fine examples of leadership in today’s very competitive marketplace and are paving the way to what we definitely hope will someday be total equity in pay, recognition, and rewards … as it should have been long ago.

Angela Braly

Title: President and CEO
Company: WellPoint
Age: 45
Compensation: N/A

For the past two years, Angela Braly has been the executive vice president and general counsel at WellPoint. As of last month (June), she is now the President and CEO. In her previous position she took charge of the country’s largest Medicare claims processing business and was pivotal in the integration of WellChoice, which the company acquired in 2005. Note this: she’s now running the nation’s largest health insurance outfit, but she’s the only woman heading a Fortune 50 company!

Patricia Woertz

Title: Chairman, President and CEO
Company: Archer Daniels Midland
Age: 54
Compensation: $8.18 million

Patricia Woertz left Chevron after three decades in a very competitive industry. Some may have been surprised that she would turn to farming. However, since taking over ADM—the $37-billion food-processing giant—almost a year ago, her life is all about turning corn and soy crops into everything from syrup to ethanol. It appears that the move from oilfield to cornfield was no accident: Woertz aims to transform ADM into a leader in renewable fuels.

Indra Nooyi

Title: Chairman Elect and CEO
Company: PepsiCo
Age: 51
Compensation: $9.38 million

Indra Nooyi joined PepsiCo nearly 13 years ago, and the Indian-born CEO is running a much different company today. She wouldn’t have it any other way. She was instrumental in selling off restaurant businesses including KFC and Pizza Hut, and replacing them with brands like Tropicana and Quaker. After five years playing number-cruncher and dealmaker, she became CEO last October.

Brenda C. Barnes

Title: Chairman and CEO
Company: Sara Lee
Age: 53
Compensation: $4.94 million

Since 2005, Brenda Barnes has dealt with a number of challenges as she has added and deleted a number of products to the ever-popular Sara Lee brand. Before she took over as the company’s personal trainer, Barnes famously left her job at PepsiCo after 22 years of service and she took a six-year leave to raise her three children.

Carol Meyrowitz

Title: President and CEO
Company: T.J. Maxx and Marshalls
Age: 53
Compensation: $8.50 million

TJX stores like T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s are surefire destinations for bargain hunters. As the newly appointed CEO, this 24-year retail veteran has her hands full with a number of challenges. Carol Meyrowitz inherits a messy roster of lawsuits resulting from the millions of credit card numbers and other personal information stolen from the company’s computers.

Mary F. Sammons

Title: President and CEO
Company: Rite Aid
Age: 60
Compensation: $1.89 million

Sammons joined Rite Aid in 1999 as president in the middle of the accounting scandal. The organization is in much better shape today. Four years later when she took over as CEO, the company was still losing money, but it had survived bankruptcy. Today, she’s concentrating on assimilating the recent $3.4 billion purchase of Brooks and Eckerd.

Anne Mulcahy

Title: Chairman and CEO
Company: Xerox
Age: 53
Compensation: $10.69 million

Ann Mulcahy spent nearly 20 years at Xerox before taking over in 2001. She faced an overwhelming challenge stepping into the leadership role as the company was buried in $15 billion of debt and an SEC scandal. Observers were certain that Xerox was destined for Chapter 11. However, Mulcahy managed to dig out by drastically cutting the workforce and steadily increasing innovations; they’ve launched 100 new products in the last three years.

Patricia F. Russo

Title: CEO
Company: Lucent
Age: 53
Compensation: $4.75 million (2005)

Some believe Patricia Russo’s specialty might just be corporate recovery. In the late nineties she helped AT&T turn around its failing business-systems division, which eventually became part of Lucent. And after a quick stop at troubled Kodak in 2001, she returned the following year to revive Lucent. After two years of first aid, which included slashing jobs and streamlining costs, Lucent returned to profitability in 2004. Now she faces new challenges with the newly merged Alcatel-Lucent. She seems to thrive on challenges and has handled them well.

Andrea Jung

Title: Chairman and CEO
Company: Avon Products
Age: 48
Compensation: $13.32 million

Acting as Avon’s resident master artist since 1999, CEO Andrea Jung has faced many challenges, including slipping profits and increasing the number of salespeople. Makeovers—financial or physical, large or small—are always difficult. The fix, like any beauty regimen, is not cheap. It’s costing Avon some $500 million, and includes plumping the ad budget and spending more on research and development.

Susan M. Ivey

Title: Chairman, President and CEO
Company: Reynolds American
Age: 48
Compensation: $8.17 million

Susan Ivey is a 25-year veteran of the tobacco business. At Reynolds American, she oversees some of the most iconic cigarette brands, such as Camel and Kool. However, while she’s working on increasing the company’s 30-percent market share, she’s also dealing with states adopting smoking restrictions and increasing cigarette taxes.

Paula Rosput Reynolds

Title: President and CEO
Company: Safeco
Age: 50
Compensation: $6.14 million

After working in the energy industry for 27 years (five of those as CEO of Atlanta-based AGL Resources), Paula Rosput Reynolds made a career change to running insurance company Safeco. Despite making the switch last year, she’s already made some major decisions like moving the company’s headquarters to downtown Seattle and reducing expenses.

Margaret C. Whitman

Title: President and CEO
Company: eBay
Age: 50
Compensation: $3.10 million (2005)

For the last nine years, eBay has been Meg Whitman’s playground. Her background reads like a “Who’s Who” of Business Success as she served major leadership roles at Procter & Gamble, the Walt Disney Co., Stride Rite, FTD, and Hasbro, Inc. Meg Whitman took over the San Jose-based tech company and made it an industry darling. She continues to hold on as one of the longest serving CEOs in the tech world.

Christina A. Gold

Title: President, CEO and Director
Company: Western Union
Age: 59
Compensation: $4.90 million

Gold’s career trajectory has been unconventional. She spent 25 years at cosmetics company Avon and ran a Dallas-based telecom business before she landed at Western Union in 2002 as its president. Today, the money transfer empire is nearly double the size of its nearest competitor and boasts an 18-percent market share. And earlier this year, as CEO of the $4.5 billion company, Gold oversaw its transition from a subsidiary into a publicly listed company.

About Harry K. Jones

Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

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