Median board director compensation hits $300K for S&P 500 firms

Many companies in the S&P 500 are working to streamline their board compensation structure, while increasing overall pay, according to a study conducted by Mercer, a human resources consulting firm.

Median board compensation for S&P 500 companies was $300,000 in 2018, up 13.2 percent from 2014. 

The median retainer for a board director at S&P 500 companies in 2018 was $100,000. Board retainers jumped more than 11 percent from 2017, when the median was $90,000, after growing more slowly from 2014-17. The median board retainer was $80,000 in 2014. 

This uptick in retainers may stem from efforts to simplify board payment structures and eliminate meeting fees to reflect that a directorship encompasses more than attending meetings.  

"Today’s corporate board member must react swiftly and effectively to cyberattacks, address sexual harassment allegations, and respond to stakeholders' concerns about sustainability and corporate responsibility — along with other more traditional challenges like succession planning, executive pay, and financial oversight," says a Mercer blog on the study findings.  

Only 14 percent of boards used meeting fees in 2018, compared to 26 percent in 2014.  

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