Snap’s One Female Board Member Makes Less Than Her Male Colleagues
Ahead of its IPO, the business community learned a lot about Snapchat, the famously secretive social media darling—including how white and male its board of directors is.
On Thursday, Snap Inc., the parent company of the messaging app, disclosed details of its business in its S-1 filing in preparation for its initial public offering. Along with information that’s likely to make some investors’ mouths water (like its 600% growth rate in 2016), there are a few details that may give some pause—including the company’s lack of diverse leadership.
Snap, which is expected to go public in March, has nine directors on its board—only one of whom is female: Hearst Magazines chief content officer Joanna Coles. The filing also reveals that, of the five directors who are being paid, Coles made the least in 2016. Snap Inc. initially declined to comment, but after publication told Fortune that the S-1 does not reflect Ms. Coles’ latest grant, which was issued in January 2017.
The media exec is the lowest paid of the non-employee directors—a group that includes all directors except CEO Evan Spiegel and CTO Bobby Murphy—who currently receive compensation from the company. Snap has awarded Coles much less stock than her male peers, which means she stands to make relatively little money off the IPO.
In 2016, Snap paid Coles $110,866 in total compensation, including a $35,000 salary retainer. The next lowest-paid directors, on the other hand, made almost ten times that much: G100 Companies CEO Scott Miller and Intel Security Group senior vice president Christopher Young each received nearly $1.1 million each in 2016—and they only started in October.
Snap’s highest-paid director is former P&G chairman A.G. Lafley, who joined the board in July of 2016, and still made more than $2.6 million for the year. Lafley’s compensation includes a retainer of $200,000 annually, nearly six times as much as the one Coles receives.
The biggest differentiating factor in Coles’ pay is the number of shares she received in Snap. Lafley, for one, received almost all of his compensation in stock, 162,762 shares worth more than $2.5 million, that vest over the next four years.
But even with other board members’ vesting requirements, Coles is still getting much less than her male counterparts. While Lafley’s stock award works out to 40,691 shares per year. Coles, who is awarded stock on an annual basis, only received 7,488 shares for 2016. (While another director, IPO expert and LinkedIn board member Stanley Meresman, did not receive an annual salary or stock award last year, he received the same sized stock allotment as Lafley in 2015, which is still worth more than all of Coles’ compensation for 2016.)
Miller and Young, for their part, each received 65,106 shares to vest over the next four years, the equivalent of twice as many shares per year as Coles received. (In 2015, Snap awarded Coles just 4,882 shares.)
The directors who went unpaid last year were investors who already owned large amounts of Snap stock. Michael Lynton, who recently stepped down from his role as CEO of Sony and is now executive chairman of the company, has stock through his company Lynton Asset LP. Meanwhile, Mitch Lasky is a partner at Benchmark Capital, a VC firm has about a 13% stake in the company.
When Snap goes public, it plans to create a new pay policy in which all board members will be eligible to earn compensation. The IPO filing did not specify how much they will make.
The fact that Snap pays its one female board member (Coles) less than the other directors is also consistent with current trends. A recent study by researchers at the University of Missouri and the University of Delaware found that “diverse” directors (women and minorities) on the boards at more than 1,800 companies are paid about 3% to 9% less than their “non-diverse” (white and male) counterparts.
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Snap’s board is more male than most in Silicon Valley. Among the last 100 technology companies to file for an IPO, 80% of the 381 board appointments were male, according to a recent report by Redfin, a number that’s consistent with the U.S. overall, where women hold about 20% of board seats at the largest public companies, according to research by executive search firm Egon Zehnder. Facebook (FB) and Apple (AAPL) each have two women on their boards and Google (GOOGL) has three.
Diversity at the top isn’t just a”nice to have”—it’s been shown to improve financial performance. According to 2015 research by McKinsey & Company, companies with boards in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to outperform those in the bottom quartile. And if that isn’t reason enough for Snap to add more women to its top ranks, the company might want to reflect on who turned it into a social media phenomenon: the female Snapchatters who first put the startup on the map and likely account for much of its revenue.
Additional reporting by Jen Wieczner.
This story has been updated to include Snap Inc.’s comment and to note that Coles is not the only minority member of Snap’s board. Chris Young is African-American.