Lawmakers criticize GM for alleged CEO pay gap

A pair of Democratic lawmakers are criticizing General Motors for reportedly paying its first female chief executive less than it paid her male predecessor.

Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) said GM is paying its CEO Mary Barra $4.4 million while it paid its former chief Dan Akerson $9, citing a report from the website ThinkProgress.com.

Barra became the first woman to lead a major American car company last month when she was appointed by GM to replace Akerson.

DeLauro and Slaughter said Barra’s pay should be more in line with what Akerson was receiving during his tenure atop the Detroit-based automaker.

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“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. “At the top of the wage scale, female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are paid on average 18 percent less than their male counterparts.”

DeLauro and Slaughter linked the reports of Barra’s pay gap to efforts by Democrats in Congress to pay legislation to eliminate gender-based salary inequalities.  

“This disparity in CEO pay shows that no American woman is immune to the gender pay gap that exists in this country,” DeLauro and Slaughter said. “Despite being the breadwinner for 60 percent of American families, on average, women are still only paid 77 cents for every dollar a man makes doing comparable work.

“This is a national embarrassment, yet Republicans in Congress have repeatedly blocked equality measures such as the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would address the gender pay gap,” the lawmakers continued. “It’s time for our GOP colleagues to abandon their 1950’s workplace policies and move forward on an economic agenda that ensures women can succeed so that America can succeed.”

GM said the comparison of Barra and Akerson's pay scales was "premature and flawed" because the reports did not take into account all the sources of Barra's potential income from the company.

"General Motors CEO Mary Barra will receive $1.6 million in salary and $2.8 million under the company’s short-term incentive plan, which totals $4.4 million," the company said in a statement. "This represents two of her three compensation components. Specific long-term incentive compensation numbers will be included in the company’s April 2014 proxy filing, which likely will dispel any notion of pay inequity. Stockholders at GM’s Annual Meeting must approve the long-term portion of her pay."

The company added that Akerson's pay did not include long-term performance incentives.

"Dan Akerson, who had prior CEO experience and was chairman of the board of directors, was paid $1.7 million in salary and $7.3 million in Salary Stock awards for a total of about $9 million in 2012, the last publicly available record of his compensation. Akerson’s compensation did not include a long-term incentive because, as is now clear, he was not going to be at GM for the long term."

-This story was updated with new information at 5:02 p.m.