Pay packages for the top HR leaders rose 6% in the past year, according to a new Equilar publication, HR Executive Pay Trends. The report found that the median total reported compensation for HR executives at Equilar 500 companies was $2 million in 2021.
“As the dominant conversations in corporate life today swirl around returning to the office, remote working, talent shortages, and vaccination mandates and policies, there’s never been a more challenging time to lead human resources for a large company”
“As the dominant conversations in corporate life today swirl around returning to the office, remote working, talent shortages, and vaccination mandates and policies, there’s never been a more challenging time to lead human resources for a large company,” said Nathan Grantz, senior researcher at Equilar. “Add to that the broader trends of diversity, equity and inclusion and the rising importance of human capital management as a critical corporate strategic asset, and it’s easy to see how events of the past two years have sparked a moment for HR departments.”
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Among the report’s findings, one noteworthy factor is that the top HR role is heavily dominated by women, both from a numbers standpoint and in terms of how much they’re paid.
In just one year, the share of women in CHRO roles jumped from 59% to about 75% at Equilar 500 companies. Just five years ago, in 2017, 42% of CHRO roles were held by women. This reflects a larger trend. Over the past 10 years, the percentage of women in the CHRO role across the Russell 3000 has grown significantly, from 38% to 62%. In fact, it is the only major C-suite role in the larger index where women hold a majority of positions.
Meanwhile, women are also earning far more as well. For the women in lead HR roles, median pay was $3 million compared to $1.6 million for men. That gap has been growing wider by the year.
Other key findings from the report include:
- Compensation for HR executive roles at companies with more than $50 billion revenue was more than double than among those in the lowest revenue range (less than $10 billion)
- Communication services led the way among industry sectors in total pay with a median $3.5 million, followed by healthcare and technology, while the utilities and basic materials sectors were the only industries to award less in 2021 than they did in 2020 at the median
- Performance awards were the most popular vehicle in the HR executive compensation mix, accounting for at least one-quarter, and up to nearly one-third, of the average pay package in 2021
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