Even After Breaking the Glass Ceiling, Women in Israel Earn Less Than Men

Ahead of International Women’s Day, a TheMarker survey of senior female executives at the stock exchange’s top 100 companies shows a gap of 31% in 2015.

File photo: Hi-tech workers.
File photo: Hi-tech workers.Credit: Bloomberg

Even for Israeli women who make it to the top of the corporate ladder, the odds are they will still earn less than their male counterparts – about 31% less on average in 2015, a survey by TheMarker found ahead of International Women’s Day next Wednesday.

Women working at top executive positions in the 100 biggest companies traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange earned on average 2.7 million shekels ($730,000), including salary, bonuses and other non-salary compensation and social benefits in 2015 (the last year for which figures are available).

While that is a lot of money, it was 31% less than men were getting at those companies, which comprise the TASE TA-100 stock index (now the TA-125). In 2014, the gap was just 13%.

Worse still, women still occupy a small minority of top jobs in Israel’s biggest publicly traded companies, said Keren Kibovich, a partner and expert in corporate governance at BDO Consulting Group, which conducted the annual survey for TheMarker.

“The rate of women filling senior management jobs shows us there’s nothing new under the sun,” she said. “The low level has remained unchanged over the last three years. In 2013, the percentage of women in senior positions at TA-100 companies was only 10%. The year after it rose to 13%, but in 2015 it fell to 11%. Among 308 top executives counted in the survey, only 35 were women.”

In terms of pay, the biggest gap between the sexes is in industry, where men earned an average of 5 million shekels in 2015, against just 1.7 million for women – a gap of 187%. Holding companies also showed a yawning gap of 127% – 4 million shekels for men versus 1.8 million for women.

That said, there are two sectors where women outearned men. In real estate they had a 21% edge over their male counterparts – 4 million versus 3.2 million on average. In trade and services, they had a slim advantage of 4%, earning 1.9 million shekels to men’s 1.8 million.

Women also earned 7% more than men in banking in 2016, for which there are figures: 2.4 million shekels on average, to 2.3 million for men.

One reason for that is the best-paid women are concentrated in those two areas. Of the top 10 female earners in TA-100 companies, four were in real estate, including Rachel Lavine, who was CEO of property company Gazit Globe until November, when she as replaced by a man (Dori Segal). Another four were in banking, where three of the big five banks count women CEOs: Rakefet Russak-Aminoach of Leumi; Lilach Asher-Topilsky of Israel Discount; and Smadar Barber-Tsadik of First International.

The other two are in telecoms, where Stella Handler is CEO of Bezeq, and in insurance – Anath Levin is head of investments at Clal Insurance.

Beside numbers and pay, another significant difference between male and female top executives is that women’s pay is more heavily weighted to salary rather than stock options and bonuses. For women, 54% of their total was straight salary, versus 43% for men.

Kibovich speculates that women prefer financial certainty over the risk involved with compensation hinged on performance. “Another reason could be that women are compensated more for their past performance and proven abilities, while men are compensated more on the basis of their potential and future achievements,” she said.

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