In January, GM announced CEO Mary Barra would receive a cash salary of $1.6 million; short-term incentive compensation of $2.8 million; and undisclosed long-term compensation. (Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News)
General Motors Co. said Monday its new chief executive, Mary Barra, is expected to receive total compensation of $14.4 million in 2014 — about 60 percent more than her predecessor and nearly three times what she made in 2013.
The Detroit automaker moved up the announcement of her total pay package by two months after criticism on social media and from two members of Congress falsely suggested GM’s board was paying the first woman to head a global automaker only half what her predecessor made.
GM said it released “the full figures ahead of its proxy filing in April to correct misperceptions created by comparisons that used only a portion of Barra’s overall compensation.”
In January, GM announced that Barra would receive a cash salary of $1.6 million; short-term incentive compensation of $2.8 million; and undisclosed long-term compensation that would be announced in April.
On Monday, GM said the board planned to award Barra $10 million in long-term compensation tied to the company’s performance.
“As a new CEO, Mary’s total compensation is in line with her peer group and properly weighted so that most is at-risk,” said GM Chairman Tim Solso. “The company’s performance will ultimately determine how much she is paid.”
Barra’s total is an increase of 60 percent over her predecessor, Dan Akerson, who stepped down as CEO in January. Last year, Akerson received $9 million in total compensation, including $1.7 million in cash. Unlike her predecessor, Barra is not chairman of the board.
Her total pay package is less than the CEOs of Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV. In 2012, Ford CEO Alan Mulally made $21 million in total compensation. Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne made close to $20 million in total compensation in 2011.
Still, Barra’s total pay will be above the average of Fortune 500 CEOs, which was $12.3 million in 2013.
GM’s CEO pay has lagged behind other auto executives. Barra’s pay package marks the first time since 2008 that GM’s board can pay its CEO without approval from the U.S. Treasury’s pay czar. The government’s pay oversight ended in December, when the Treasury sold its remaining shares in GM.
Conservative outlets seized on erroneous news reports that Barra was making only $4.4 million to suggest that President Barack Obama had made a mistake by inviting the GM CEO to the State of the Union since she wasn’t being paid as much as a man. Liberal outlets suggested it was evidence of the need for legislation barring discrimination in pay on the basis of gender.
Fox Business posted an article headlined, “The White House’s misstep on GM’s pay gap.” It cited Obama’s statement that “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.”
The article asserted “Trouble is, Barra is not even getting 77 percent, but less than half, 48 percent, of the pay of GM’s outgoing male CEO.”
The following day, left-leaning Think Progress wrote an article headlined “GM’s first female CEO will make half of what her predecessor made.”
That prompted two members of Congress, Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., to criticize GM.
“What kind of message are we sending to American women and girls, that even if you make it to the top of your industry, you’re still worth less than a man?” the lawmakers said in a statement. “This disparity in CEO pay shows that no American woman is immune to the gender pay gap that exists in this country.”
After hearing the news of the total pay package Monday, Slaughter tweeted : “Happy to see @mtbarra earning a salary equal to that of her male counterparts & reflecting her contributions to @GM.” DeLauro tweeted: “Great news from @GM, acting swiftly to reflect value Mary Barra brings to the company. #WomenSucceed.”
GM tried to put out the fire by issuing a statement Feb. 4 that said release of Barra’s pay package “likely will dispel any notion of pay inequity.”
The compensation is expected to be approved by stockholders in June as part of a new incentive plan at the company’s annual meeting.
But Barra’s $14.4 million pay package still falls short of the recently announced compensation for another Detroit heavy hitter: Detroit Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer will pull down $15.5 million in 2014.