Mary Barra, a new CEO of GM, addresses the media during a news conference, Jan. 27, 2014.
DANIEL ROLAND/Getty

GM’s first female CEO makes half of what her predecessor did

When General Motors announced Mary Barra as its new CEO last December, the company was lauded for choosing its first female to lead the company. 

However, the automaker is not exactly narrowing the wage gap as Barra is currently making less than half of her male predecessor at GM, according to the company’s January 2014 filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Currently, Barra is making $4.4 million in total compensation, which includes a base salary of $1.6 million, a short term compensation, or stock awards, of $2.8 million. Barra’s pay is less than half – 48% – of what Dan Akerson, GM’s outgoing CEO made, with a total of $9.1 million including $1.7 million base pay in 2013 and $7.35 million in short term compensation. 

In fact, Barra was paid more when she was GM’s senior vice president of global product development, according to SEC filings. In her product development position, Barra was paid $4.94 million in total that included a base salary of $750,000, stock awards of $3.91 million, and $279,200 in other compensation and perks in 2012.

In his State of the Union address last month, President Obama hailed Barra as a success story of a female leader of a workplace.

“Our success should depend not on accident of birth, but the strength of our work ethic and the scope of our dreams,” President Obama said about Barra, who watched alongside first lady Michelle Obama at the State of the Union address. “It’s how the daughter of a factory worker is CEO of America’s largest automaker.”

The president also discussed that while women have come far in the workplace, the gender divide still persists with executive pay. “Women make up about half our workforce, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. Women deserve equal pay for equal work,” Obama said. 

A General Motors spokesman told The Huffington Post Tuesday night, that the “discussion of pay inequality between Barra and her predecessor is premature and flawed.” 

“This represents two of her three compensation components,” the company representative wrote. “Specific long-term incentive compensation numbers will be included in the company’s April 2014 proxy filing, which likely will dispel any notion of pay inequity. Stockholders at GM’s Annual Meeting must approve the long-term portion of her pay.

Dan Akerson, who had prior CEO experience and was chairman of the board of directors, was paid $1.7 million in salary and $7.3 million in Salary Stock awards for a total of about $9 million in 2012, the last publicly available record of his compensation. Akerson’s compensation did not include a long-term incentive because, as is now clear, he was not going to be at GM for the long term.”

A GM spokesman also told Fox News’ Elizabeth MacDonald that Barra’s compensation could increase after shareholders vote in June on her long-term compensation. Yahoo Auto argues that since GM’s final shareholder quotes will not be released until then, it is unfair to weigh and compare Akerman and Barra’s wages.

The long term compensation portion of Barra’s pay package will not be announced until GM’s filings in April. Barra, a 33-year veteran employee of GM, has never served as the CEO or president of any other company.

While Akerson has served on GM’s board since 2009 and previously was a managing director of the private equity firm The Carlyle Group, he has never run an automotive company.  

Pay Equity

GM's first female CEO makes half of what her predecessor did