For The First Time On Record, The Top Paid CFO Is A Woman

Safra Catz, left, with Larry Ellison CREDIT: AP/PAUL SAKUMA
Safra Catz, left, with Larry Ellison CREDIT: AP/PAUL SAKUMA

For the first time since the Wall Street Journal has been tracking chief financial officer (CFO) compensation, the highest-paid CFO was a woman in 2013: Safra Catz of Oracle. The paper also reports that two women made it into the top 10 for the first time, with Pamela Craig of Accenture also on the list at eighth.

The top rankings for chief financial officers differ from those of CEOs, where no women made it into the top ten. The highest-paid woman serving as chief executive was Carol Meyrowitz, CEO of TJX, who ranked at number 27 out of 300 and made less than half of what was given to the top paid male CEO.

The news may not all be rosy for female CFOs, however. Catz’s top ranking comes when overall CFO pay at S&P; 500 companies declined for the first time in many years, falling about 2 percent last year. Her own pay declined from $51.7 million the year before, when she was the second-highest paid, to $43.6 million in 2013. That she made the top spot with declining pay only shows that she got there because the man above her saw his pay fall even more, not because she was handed a big increase.

Women are rare among CFOs at the country’s biggest companies. They hold just 11.4 percent of these roles at Fortune 500 companies. Female CEOs are even rarer, making up just 48 among the Fortune 1000, or 4.8 percent. Overall, women make up less than 15 percent of executive officers at the largest companies, a figure that has stayed put for four years.

People of color have also made some recent inroads into holding chief financial jobs, with 27 of the CFOs at the 668 biggest companies being African-American, Hispanic, or of Asian decent. Still, that means they make up just 4 percent of the total. The numbers are worse among CEOs, where Asians make up 1.8 percent, African-Americans make up 1.2 percent, and Hispanics make up 1.6 percent.

Female executives experience a gender wage gap overall. Women serving as CEO made 80 percent of what men made in 2013. Overall, female executives at S&P; 500 companies are paid 18 percent less than what men are paid and many make less than the average executive pay in their industries.