“Eight” probably isn't one of the first. But it's a record. Among the highest paid executives at publicly traded plastics processors there are eight women.
Nancy M. Taylor, president and CEO of Tredegar Corp., tops the list of female CEOs at No. 30 with $2,637,476 total annual compensation last year, up two positions since last year's ranking.
While eight out of 155, or 5 percent, may not seem like very many, it's a vast improvement for women from a decade ago, when Plastics News saw only one female executive ranking in the top 50 and three women on the list at all. This year also sees four of the eight women over the $1 million mark for total compensation — with one more not far behind at $922,375.
Though there are comparatively few female executives on the list — and in the corner offices of plastics firms in the first place — the North American plastics industry is actually tracking well with the rest of U.S. business.
The 2014 Fortune 500 ranking, considered by many to be the last and final word on the biggest public and closely held U.S. companies, features a record 24 female CEOs. That's four more than last year and about 5 percent of the total list, matching the plastics industry's statistics.
“The number of women included in these CEO studies has been on the rise, but it's slow,” said Aaron Boyd, director of governance research at Equilar, the California company that complied the data for the Plastics News ranking. “People notice more and more, too. It's become something that's specifically checked up on, in part because there's clearly such a long way to go for female executives.”
The plastics industry lost some powerful female forces in the past year. G. Penny McIntyre, No. 33 in last year's raking, left her post as president of Newell Rubbermaid Inc.'s consumer group in November 2013 for the CEO spot at Sunrise Senior Living LLC.
Spartech CEO Victoria Holt, last year's No. 62 place holder, temporarily departed the industry after engineering the company's sale to polymer rival PolyOne in early 2013, collecting a more than $5 million golden parachute package: $3.2 million in cash severance, $1.7 million in accelerated vesting of stock and options, plus pension and benefits totaling $142,329 on her way out the door in April 2013. Had Holt been included in this year's ranking, her exit package alone would have likely boosted her to No. 15, making her not just one of the highest paid women in the plastics industry, but one of the highest paid executives, period. In February, Holt landed as president and CEO of Minnesota-based Proto Labs, a quick-turn manufacturer of custom parts for prototyping and short-run production.
But this year's female contingent is bolstered by new blood at global packaging giant Sealed Air Corp., as Ilham Kadri joined the company as president of the Diversey Care Division Jan. 1, 2013 from Dow Chemical Co. Kadri makes her debut in the executive pay rankings at No. 48 with $1.7 million in total pay, nearly $735,000 her compensation package in stock awards.
Sealed Air and Tredegar also boast multiple women on the list. Sealed Air executive vice president and chief financial officer Carol P. Lowe joins Kadri on the list at No. 44; along side Taylor is president of Tredegar Film Products Corp. and corporate vice president Mary Jane Hellyar at No. 93.