HR Executives Had Growth in Pay This Year

Equilar 500 companies experienced a median increase of 6.5 percent over the past year.
By: | November 30, 2018

If you’re a chief HR officer of a large U.S.-based company and want to know how your compensation stacks up against your peers, you might want to check out the latest data from Equilar.

The research, titled “Human Resource Executive Pay Trends,” finds, using compensation data for HR executives at 953 companies in 2017 and 820 companies in 2018, that corporations in the Equilar 500—an index consisting of the largest U.S.-based companies by revenue—saw a 6.5 percent increase in median HR compensation from 2017 to 2018, rising from roughly $1.73 million in 2017 to around $1.84 million in 2018.

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Equilar Senior Research Analyst Alex Knowlton, who authored the report, points out that the year-over-year increase falls right in line with other executive-officer-compensation trends. “For example,” he says, “Equilar published separate reports on CFO and general counsel pay earlier this year, and those positions saw a 5.7 percent and 6.7 percent increase from 2017 to 2018, respectively.

Only two sectors in the report witnessed a decrease in the median total direct compensation over that same time frame—industrial goods and utilities. In contrast, those working in the healthcare sector experienced the highest median increase in 2018 at $2.7 million, while those in technology reaped the largest year-over-year increase: 29.4 percent.

Not surprisingly, the Equilar analysis confirms that revenue size has a lot to do with an executive’s TDC, with HR executives at companies with revenues greater than $15 billion receiving slightly more than four times that of an HR executive at a company with less than $1 billion in revenue. That said, median HR pay actually decreased at the larger companies by 2.9 percent—from 2017 to 2018.

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That finding is pretty much in line with HRE’s HR’s Elite, a ranking produced in conjunction with Equilar each year that lists the 50 highest-paid HR executives named in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, consisting mostly of executives at larger companies. In that latest ranking, median annual compensation declined by 3.4 percent over the past year.

“Though there was a slight decrease at larger companies,” says Knowlton, “it’s not necessarily something entirely out of the ordinary. Compensation can vary year to year, and decreases may be a result of sign-on bonuses or one-time equity awards being granted in one year and not the next.”

David Shadovitz is editor of HRE. He is also co-chair of the HR Tech Conference and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. He can be reached at [email protected]

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