February 5, 2018
The Boardroom Gap: The Pay Gap

Boardroom Gap: Central Mass. male executives make $1.3M vs. $573K for women

The highest-paying jobs among Central Massachusetts' most prominent organizations are overwhelming held by men, while the sectors with the greater gender mix are typically lower paying.

As a result, the region's male executives make more than twice as much as the female executives.

In its examination into the gender makeup of 75 Central Massachusetts organizations' leadership, WBJ determined the total compensation for 233 top executives at 50 public companies, social service nonprofits, colleges and hospitals. WBJ didn't determine compensation at private companies.

Of those 223 people, men made an average of $1,313,411 in the latest reporting year, compared to $572,709 for women. The findings don't definitively show male executives made more money because of their gender, but it is clear that men are more likely to land in positions paying the most, like public company CEOs.

"We end up in a situation where there's a lot of different reasons to factor in, but the outcome is that women get paid much less," said Victoria Budson, the executive director of the Women and Public Policy program at the Harvard Kennedy School.

The pay gap

The 171 local male executives made a combined $225 million in the latest reporting year. The 62 local female executives made a combined $36 million, a number in which Carol Meyrowitz – executive chairwoman at Framingham retailer TJX Cos. – makes up a significant portion with her $14.5 million in total compensation.

"To me, it's the picture of America," Evelyn Murphy, the chair of the WAGE Project, a Massachusetts equal-pay advocacy group, said of the Central Massachusetts figures. "It's pretty much the same story throughout the country and throughout the sectors."

The major difference in overall Central Massachusetts executive pay between men and women is created by the fields in which women have a larger percentage of leadership roles.

Women are more likely to work in executive roles in colleges, where average pay among those studied by the WBJ was $264,478 for men and women combined. Among hospitals and health providers, the average pay for men and women combined was $470,732, and for social service nonprofits, the average was $220,439.

By comparison, top executives at public companies in Central Mass. made an average of $2,699,860, a number influenced by high-earning executives at companies like TJX Cos., Waters Corp. and Boston Scientific.

Only six women are top executives at such public companies in Central Massachusetts, and pay could be determined for only four of them.

Even in industries where women are relatively evenly represented in number, a significant pay gap persists, according to WBJ's study of the 50 local firms.

At Central Mass. hospitals and health providers, the gender pay gap is 50 percent – an average of $569,113 for men compared to $282,168 for women. Among social service nonprofits, the pay gap is 30 percent; men make $244,413, and women earn $170,094.

Male college executives make an average of $291,057, a number that doesn't include College of the Holy Cross President Philip Boroughs, who does not take a salary. Their female counterparts made $230,516, creating a gap of 21 percent.

High-paid board members

The WBJ compensation study of 233 executives did not include board members, unless they also serve as executives. However, in looking at board compensation, men are more likely than women to land a place on highly-paid corporate boards in Central Massachusetts, according to the latest corporate filings.

Board members at IPG Photonics – nine of the 10 are men – all make more than $300,000 including stock options, and most board members at TJX are also over that amount. Board members all make more than $200,000 at Waters Corp., SeaChange International, Hanover Insurance Group and Boston Scientific, and they're predominantly men. Virtusa board members – all men – aren't far behind, at an average of $154,382.

Board members for colleges, hospitals and social service nonprofits – where women are more likely to serve – typically are unpaid volunteers. Of the 10 boards in Central Massachusetts examined by WBJ with the highest percentage of women, all were unpaid.

Pay gap vs. equal pay

The Central Massachusetts gender pay gap determined by WBJ is a separate issue than equal pay, which deals with women and men with similar experience in similar positions making the same salary. Of the 233 executives examined, they largely did not hold comparable titles at similarly sized companies.

WBJ couldn't determine definitively if an executive's pay could be due to gender vs. factors like experience.

"There's still an inexplicable gap," said Jean Beaupre, the faculty director of the Institute for Women's Leadership at Nichols College.

In her first year, Worcester Polytechnic Institute paid President Laurie Leshin 42 percent less than her male predecessor, Dennis Berkey, but Berkey had been the WPI president for nearly a decade.

When Shira Goodman became the CEO of Staples in 2016, her base salary of $1.1 million was 12 percent less than her predecessor, Ronald Sargent, according to the company's filings. The company said the difference was due to her lack of experience as a CEO compared to Sargent's long tenure and because she did not chair the board of directors as Sargent did.

Budson said she's found the pay gap tends to widen with higher education levels. Higher-level positions typically have more factors for compensation, she said, such as experience and comparable salaries among other top executives.

Among all workers, men in Massachusetts make median annual earnings of $62,868, and women $51,666, according to U.S. Census Buearu data. That gap – 82 cents on the dollar – is slightly better than the 80-cent national average.

Still, Murphy, the state's first female lieutenant governor, under Michael Dukakis, said the pay gap remains shrouded in stereotypes, such as women not needing a paycheck as much as men, not as likely to be breadwinners, or more likely to use time off for family.

"But all those old stereotypes don't hold anymore," she said.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said the board of directors at Marlborough medical device manufacturer Hologic is predominately male. The board is four men and four women.

Read the entire The Boardroom Gap series

Feb. 5 edition

WBJ's Findings: Women vastly underrepresented in Central Mass. corporate leadership

The Pay Gap: Central Mass. male executives make $1.3M vs. $573K for women

Editorial Opinion: The importance of diversity

– Letter from the Editor: Can't keep doing the same thing and expect different results

Feb. 19 edition Coming in two weeks!

The impact on today: Inequality impacts everything from company culture to profits

– Their stories: Women who have been the only female in the boardroom tell their stories

March 5 edition Coming in four weeks!

Creating progress: Steps are being taken to improve business gender equality

Leading organizations: Organizations like Worcester State say why they emphasize equality

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