Yael T. Abouhalkah

Women shut out of KC’s top CEO pay list

Updated: 2013-05-07T15:52:19Z

Talk about an unbreakable glass ceiling: When it comes to earning the big bucks in Kansas City’s world of public businesses, women are nowhere to be found.

Take a look at today’s Star 40 list, which includes a ranking of total annual compensation for the CEOs at these leading businesses. How many are women?

None. Zero. Zilch.

That’s a sad, pathetic, maddening fact. It essentially says the executive boards that appoint many of these CEOs can’t find one woman to lead a major, high-earning company in this area.

Some familiar names are on the list, of course, men who have held power for years and took home generous compensation packages in the most recent fiscal year: Dan Hesse of Sprint ($10.4 million); Tom McDonnell, recently retired from DST ($7.6 million); Neal Patterson of Cerner ($5.9 million); and J. Mariner Kemper of UMB ($2.3 million).

No one is saying these men don’t deserve their positions. (Now the pay levels — that might be another story.)

Yet, it’s 2013, long past the whole revolution that was supposed to usher in more women in the boardrooms, more women in the corner offices and more women making decisions that affect an entire company or industry.

This has to be yet another wake-up call for organizations pushing efforts such as WinWin KC.

As its Facebook status succinctly notes, WinWin KC “is a campaign to increase the number of women on boards of directors and in executive positions in the Kansas City region. Our goal: 20 percent of these positions being held by women by 2015.”

It certainly might help if the boards of directors are populated with more women; they might be more prone to appoint a woman as a CEO.

But why should it take that kind of sea-change to get one — just one — woman as a top-level CEO in Kansas City?

Yes, I understand a larger number of women in the past have reached the top rung of their businesses; there are female CEOs in this area. That’s a very good thing.

Still, The Star 40 is a jarring reminder that when it comes to reaching the highest pinnacle of compensatory success in Kansas City, women haven’t broken through that glass ceiling. At least yet.

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