Among top executives at S&P 500 companies, women account for only a quarter of the total number, while controlling just 1 per cent of the value of shares held among fellow corporate leaders.
According to a study conducted with Swedish gender data firm ExecuShe, male executives held roughly $770 billion worth of shares in S&P 500 companies in 2020, compared with an estimated $9 billion for female executives.
Andreas Hoepner, a professor of banking, finance and operational risk at the Smurfit Graduate School of Business at the University of Dublin revealed to Bloomberg this week that the ratio was unbalanced even after disregarding company founders and outliers like Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk – the wealthiest executive in the index.
“We found a giant gender power gap,” Hoepner told Bloomberg.
In the U.S, women make roughly 83 cents for every dollar a man earns.
As a growing number of women are promoted to c-suite jobs, a larger portion of their overall compensation is derived from equity or stock options. As a result, the disparity with their male colleagues increases.
The 2020 figures of the S&P 500, a stock market index that tracks the stocks of 500 large-cap U.S. companies, is the widest gap in a decade and showing how equity disparities grew exponentially over time.
According to analysts at Morningstar Inc, this was due to the imbalance in stock ownership, with women of colour experiencing further discrepancies.
Commenting on the latest ExecuShe study, which was based on regulatory filings and company websites, Hoepner noted women may earn less since they are more inclined to have executive roles in marketing and human resources – departments where equity ownership levels are typically lower than for positions such as chief technology officer.
“The reality is there also are far fewer women CEOs,” he concluded.