March 17, 2008
Leadership Pay Disparities
Posted by Lisa Fairfax

I recently ran across a 2007 study conducted by the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive research center, which published figures on the pay disparities of various people in leadership positions. Based on 2005 and 2006 data, the study focused on the median salaries for the twenty highest paid individuals in various sectors. It found the following:

• Congress members: $171, 720
• Military leaders: $178, 542
• Federal executive branch: $198, 369
• Heads of non-profit organizations: $968, 698
• Heads of publicly held companies: $36.4 million

The study further pointed out that the median salary for the highest paid heads of hedge funds and private equity groups was $657.5 million. To be sure, it is no surprise that those in the nonprofit and public sector make less than their counterparts in the for-profit industry. It is also no surprise that those at the highest levels of corporate America make more than their highest paid counterparts in other fields.

Ultimately, the study probably would have been more interesting if it had compared figures from people in other fields such as those in medicine or law firm partners. Though I am sure even those figures would have underscored the study’s point that pay disparities are not just vertical, but horizontal as well. Again, while most people may be unaware of the extent of the gap, the fact of the gap seems unsurprising. Of course, given the current state of the markets, it would be interesting to see how this gap changes, if at all, in the next year.

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