Study: Women CMOs are still underrepresented but paid better than male peers
- Despite being underrepresented in top marketing positions, the median salary for female chief marketing officers is higher than their male counterparts, according to new research from Equilar. According to the findings, 18.4% of marketing executive roles at the firms analyzed were held by women in 2016 versus 10.8% in 2012. Female CMOs had a median salary of $1.64 million, while the median for male CMOs was $1.2 million.
- Overall CMO compensation is steadily trending upward based on the number of top marketing executives who rank among the top five highest-paid employees for U.S.-based or listed public companies with more than $500 million in revenue, Equilar said.
- The research found 190 CMOs or other top marketing execs that were among the highest paid at their firms, an increase of 157% over 2012. Over the five-year period, total compensation for top marketing executives rose almost 20%. Male CMO compensation increased 9.4% between 2013 and 2017, while compensation for female CMOs nearly doubled.
The Equilar study comes at a fraught moment for marketing executives, many of whom are still struggling to achieve digital transformation for their business and are weathering tight competition from both startups and massive e-commerce companies like Amazon. Last year, a Forrester report predicted 30% of CMOs would lose their jobs by the end of this year as industry trends disrupted traditional business models. This year alone, major brands including McDonald's, Airbnb and, just this week, Under Armour have all seen notable CMO departures.
Historically, CMOs have had short tenures compared to other C-suite titles and at one time had very little boardroom clout. Digital helped shift that dynamic, tasking marketing execs with managing responsibilities beyond branding, including data that could quantitatively prove ROI and actual value to a company's bottom line. The rise of marketing technology also means that CMOs have had to become one of the primary purchasers of tech within organizations, to the point of handling roles once covered by CIOs or CTOs.
However, despite indications that some companies are recognizing their CMOs with high levels of compensation, the role continues to evolve and its longevity has not dramatically improved. New roles are also rising to prominence, including that of chief media officer. According to analysis from Digiday, 257 instances of chief media officer titles have appeared on LinkedIn over the past year — a 150% increase. Traditional CMOs could soon be fighting for airtime and clout against new C-suite executives with related but different purviews.
The top paid CMO, according to Equilar, was Charter Communications' Jonathan Hargis at $15 million, followed by Dell Technologies' Jeremy Burton ($13.4 million) and Palo Alto Networks' Rene Bonvanie ($13.1 million). Hargis and several of the top 10 highest-paid CMOs hold dual titles like executive vice president.