General Counsel and the Very Real Gender Pay Gap

By George Khoury, Esq. on December 03, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When it comes to the general counsel paper chase, a recent report explains that the gender pay gap is rather large.

On average, a man serving as general counsel will make 39 percent or $125,000 more than a woman. These findings show that the gender pay gap is alive and just as bad for general counsel as in other industries. And while the CEO of Association of Corporate Counsel explained that growth for GCs is unparalleled at the moment, women seem to be underrepresented and underpaid.

Rising to the Top

Notably, the study's findings explain that most GCs, 70%, rose to their positions from a job as an in house counsel. The ACC's CEO explained that "we are in the age of the general counsel." That the role is as prestigious and powerful as it has ever been. GCs are no longer relegated to simply explaining the law to boards and CEOs, then ensuring companies didn't violate it (or were aware of the financial consequences for doing so). Nowadays, GCs are involved in leading and supporting businesses in many different ways.

In addition to counseling legal issues and ensuring regulatory compliance, GCs also are involved in risk management, sustainability, as well as politics and social issues, among other matters.

Disappointing Numbers

While average salaries might not be that disappointing for in house and GCs, there are certainly some troubling statistics. In addition to the wide gender pay gap, the number of women GC still lag behind men significantly. Women only make up approximately 30% of all GCs. Sadly, less than half of women GCs are even aware of the gender pay gap in the industry, and worse, less than 10% of men in industry know about it.

The study, conducted by ACC and LawGeex, looked at 34,000 of the approximately 113,000 GCs in the United States.

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