’s 2011 Salary Survey came out this week.    Last year I was surprised that woman made 11% less than men.   This year the bad news got worse–at the Director level, woman are making 20% less than men!  Based on their methodology, it is not clear if the salary gap is growing or if the higher salary cap they included in the survey impacted the data.

Some of the interesting trends detailed in the GreenBiz Salary report include:

Compensation is strong: Sustainability executives are compensated at salaries comparable to those of their peers at larger companies. Vice presidents of sustainability earn an average of $218,409, whereas directors of sustainability earn an average of $161,510 and sustainability managers earn an average of $105,345.  The overall trend from last year is that salaries are slightly up and over 90 percent VPs and Directors got bonuses, ranging from 25 to 37 percent of their base pay.

Execs are smart: Sustainability executives tend to be well educated, as 65 percent of vice presidents, 57 percent of directors and 62 percent of managers have master’s degrees. Managers with master’s degrees earned almost 15 percent more than those with bachelor’s degrees.

No big surprise that the two key trends I wrote about last year are still alive and well:

Men dominate the field, especially at the VP level: Men dominate at the highest levels of sustainability inside companies, with men making more than two-thirds of the VP roles in large corporations.  The salary gap at this highest level has grown.  Last year, at this level, the survey reported women earned almost the same as men, with the salary difference less than $1,000.

This year, the survey reports an 11% gap between a female vice president’s average salary ($206,316) and a man’s
($231,731).  It appears this change is due in part to a different survey methodology, which increased the base salary scale from “over $250,000” to “more than $400,000.”   Most likely the survey last year underestimated the gender salary gap.

At the director level, women are earning 20% less than men:  Last year the survey reported that men only made 4.4% more than women on average at the director level.  This year, at the director level, the survey reported a significant growth in the pay gap, with men earning 20% more than women.   It is not clear what caused this growth in the salary gap results.  Is this a fluke in the survey methodology or have women taken a giant step back at the director level?

At the manager level, women are earning almost the same as men:  At the manager level, this year, there is less of a green salary gap, with woman earning about $1,000 less than men.  Last year the survey reported that women were making 11.5% less than men at this level.  Is this a hopeful trend that at the entry level, the salary gap is closing and these young women have an opportunity to close this gap at the higher levels as their careers develop?

Advice for Women:  Four Actions to Consider

Below are four ideas for how we can get rid of this gap and create more gender balance in the sustainability field.  Please chime in and add your own thoughts.

1.  Join the broader group of women addressing gender equality in the workplace Reach out to join the broader group of women who are addressing gender equality in the workplace, such as local and national women’s organizations.  Another idea is to join or begin a women’s networking group at your company.  Join in with others to help move  this issue forward.

2.  Ask for more Especially at the initial salary negotiation stage, stand behind your experience and skills and ask for what you are worth.  The survey report is a great source of information to help support your next salary negotiations.  Even though the economy is shaky, companies still expect you to negotiate.

Check out what my favorite leadership development consultant has to say about personal power.  He defines it as, “Your personal power is the sum total of your knowledge, skills, gifts, talents, aptitudes, character qualities, resourcefulness, creativity and experiences. When supported by commitment, engagement and readiness, a human being is said to be sufficient, in their power.  Personal power is a potent force. And, it is not a project, not something that we work up to or earn over time. Rather, it is something that we claim.”

3.  Ask your company to adopt the UN Global Compact Women’s Empowerment Principles Cecily Joseph, Director of Corporate Responsibility at Symantec shared last year that, “at Symantec we see a diverse and inclusive workforce as one that fosters innovation.  Gender equity is key. One thing companies can do and CSR can help to drive is the adoption of the Women’s Empowerment Principles.”   Symantec adopted these principles last year because they offer us a road map to gender equality.

The principles are created for the business community and offer a set of guidelines on how to empower women in the workplace.  Equal  pay is specifically addressed.  Overall, the principles ask for companies to set goals and targets and to be more transparent in this area.

4.  Gain technical expertise Engineers and those with technical backgrounds are earning more than the “softer” fields such as marketing and communications.  And those with masters degrees are earning more.

5.  Add your suggestion here I would love to hear your ideas.  Please chime in below.


Sustainability Consulting Bay Area

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