Data highlights pay gap between employees and CEOs of Virginia-based publicly traded companies


RICHMOND, VA – JULY 06: The Dominion Energy headquarters is pictured on July 6, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia. CEO Robert Blue earned $7.9 million in total compensation in 2020, while the median worker pay reached $153,466, according to Securities and Exchange Commission and AFL-CIO reporting. The company’s CEO-to-employee pay ratio is 73:1. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — It should come as no surprise that a corporate CEO is often the person compensated the most, but after a year that saw record high unemployment due to furloughs and layoffs thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the gap between the pay of the CEO and the median employee pay increased according to data provided by the AFL-CIO.

The AFL-CIO, the largest organization of trade unions in the country, has rolled out a tool on its website that gives you a chance to see just how wide the gap is between what the average employee is paid, and what the CEO of that company makes.

The site reports the average S&P 500 company’s CEO-to-worker pay ratio was 299:1 in 2020, up from 264:1 in 2019.

Publicly-traded companies part of the S&P 500 and the Russell 3000 Index can be looked up on the website. For instance, Apple CEO Tim Cook was paid a salary of $3 million in 2020 but was compensated more than $14 million after what the site refers to as Non-Equity Incentive Plan Compensation, or any sort of bonus pay that is not tied to company stock. Apple’s pay ratio was 256:1, with the median worker pay coming in at $57,783.

McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski was paid a base salary of $963,506, but was compensated more than $10.8 million after stock and option awards. The pay ratio for McDonald’s was 1,189:1, with the median worker pay being $9,124.

In Virginia, three companies came in above the AFL-CIO average for S&P 500 corporations. Hilton Worldwide Holdings, the McLean-based hotel operator, had a staggering pay ratio of 1,953:1. CEO Christopher Nassetta was compensated $55,870,639 in 2020. While his salary was only $350,000, Nassetta earned more than $49 million after the valuation of stock ownership. The average Hilton employee makes $28,608.

Dollar Tree, based in Chesapeake, was the second-highest of S&P 500 companies with a pay ratio of 715:1. CEO Michael Witynski was paid a base salary of $1,184,615 and earned more than $7 million from stock. His total compensation last year was $10,767,887. The median pay for a Dollar Tree worker is $15,816.

DXC Technology, a company based in Tysons, had a pay ratio of 456:1. CEO Michael Salvino was paid a $658,654 salary, but when you add in a $3.25 million bonus and $9.35 million in stock, he was compensated more than $13 million. The median employee pay is $41,602.

Capital One, based in McLean but with a large footprint in Richmond, was next on the list with a ratio of 241:1. CEO Rich Fairbank was compensated more than $20 million in 2020. Meanwhile, Richmond-based CarMax was right behind at a ratio of 211:1, with CEO William Nash bringing in almost $10 million ($9,891,893).

Altria and Dominion Energy actually ranked toward the bottom of the list for S&P 500 companies in Virginia.

Altria’s pay ratio was 78:1. The median worker pay was $157,617, while CEO William Gifford Jr. earned $12,238,397 in total compensation.

The median worker pay at Dominion Energy is $153,466. CEO Robert Blue was paid a salary of $890,573, but earned a total compensation of $7,912,643.

Of the Russell 3000 Index companies in Virginia, the one with the lowest pay ratio is MicroStrategy Incorporated. CEO Michael Saylor made $407,160 in total compensation as the head of the Vienna-based intelligence and analytics company. The median pay for employees was $94,264.

Atlantic Union Bank, based in Richmond, had a 64:1 pay ratio with the median pay coming in at $45,933. CEO John Asbury earned a salary of $826,667 and total compensation of $2,948,051.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported real average hourly earnings for all employees decreased 0.5% from May to June, while real average weekly earnings decreased 0.9%. The national unemployment rate is 5.9%, while in Virginia, the unemployment rate fell to 4.3%. A sign the economy is rebounding back to pre-pandemic levels.

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