HR Executive Pay Trends 2021

HR Executive Pay Trends, an Equilar publication, analyzes the compensation for the top-paid human resources (HR) executives at Equilar 500 companies for the last two fiscal years. Collected according to SEC disclosure guidelines, the Equilar Top 25 Survey data is blended together with the Top 5 data from proxies to create the Equilar TrueView methodology, which is featured throughout the report as the primary data sampling.

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Key Findings

  • HR executive compensation is on a steady rise. Median total compensation for HR executive roles in the Equilar 500 increased 6% over the past fiscal year, up from $1.9 million to $2 million in 2021.
  • It pays to work at big companies. Compensation for HR executive roles at companies with more than $50 billion revenue was more than double the lowest revenue range (less than $10 billion).
  • Pandemic-resilient sectors paid the most. Communication services led the way in total pay with a median $3.5 million, followed by healthcare with $2.7 million and technology with $2.4 million.
  • Performance awards are the most common pay component. Performance equity accounted for at least one-quarter and up to one-third of the average HR executive pay package.
  • Women dominate the HR executive role. In just one year, the share of women in HR executive roles jumped from 59% to about 75% at the largest U.S. companies by revenue. Just five years ago, 42% of HR executive roles were held by women.
  • Women are also earning far more in top HR positions. Median total compensation for women across the Equilar 500 was $3 million, in comparison to $1.6 million for men.