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GBD Benchmarking: Recruiting Leader Compensation

Mike Joyner

March 15th in the U.S. was National Equal Pay Day, a day that illustrates how far into the new year women would need to work to earn the equivalent pay of men in one calendar year. This year it was 448 days. There have been moments of progress like the U.S. national women’s soccer team winning a $24M equal pay settlement and companies committing to equal pay, but research is still finding that women make roughly $0.82 to every $1 earned by men.  OpenComp recently published their 2022 Report on the State of Startup Pay Equity that digs into some of the contributing factors for these dynamics.

Compensation for recruiting leaders, regardless of gender,  is continuing to evolve due to a number of factors — expanding demand for experienced talent leaders, limited or even shrinking supply due to the influx of leaders that are exiting in-house roles for more flexible opportunities, and shifting location strategies and related compensation approaches in response to hybrid and remote work.

We wanted to follow-up on Adam’s blog post last month where he provided advice and a framework for recruiting leaders to use when considering a career move. While compensation shouldn’t be the sole factor when evaluating opportunities, we understand that it’s an important consideration when making such a big life decision.

There isn’t a lot of good data available for recruiting leaders to look at their own compensation. So over the last month, we ran a compensation benchmarking survey focused on recruiting leaders at high growth companies. We received over 175 responses from leaders at companies with an average growth rate of 71%. Participants were from companies that were evenly split between earlier stages (Seed-Series D) and later stages of maturity (Series E+ to Public). Here are some of the insights we discovered when reviewing the results:


  • Median salaries by level — Manager/Sr Manager ($175,000), Director/Sr Director ($230,000), and VP ($267,000), which represents an increase of 31% when moving from Manager/Sr Manager to Director/Sr Director level, and 16% when moving up to VP level
  • As seniority increases, it’s more likely that recruiting leaders will have a target bonus program — Manager/Sr Manager (39% have a bonus), Director/Sr Director (58%), and VP (73%)
  • Median salaries for Bay Area recruiting leadership roles outpace other locations by 12-18%. The difference is greater as seniority decreases — Manager/Sr Manager (18% higher for Bay Area leaders), Director/Sr Director (17%), and VP (12%).
  • A big differentiator in total compensation for recruiting leaders in the Bay Area is the annual equity value they earn vs peers located in other places. As seniority increases, the difference is greater. Median annual equity value in the Bay Area is greater by 21-61% — Manager/Sr Manager (21%), Director/Sr Director (44%), and VP (61%).


  • Women represented 53% of all recruiting leaders that participated in our survey, but representation diminished as seniority increased — Manager/Sr Manager (61%), Director/Sr Director (58%), VP (34%).
  • Women were paid a base salary more than men at Early (Seed-Series B) and Public stage companies, earning $1.05 and $1.12 for every dollar earned by men respectively.
  • Women were paid a lower base salary than men at Expansion (Series C-D) and Late (Series E+) stage companies, earning $0.85 and $0.79 for every dollar earned by men respectively.
  • While representation is lower at the VP level for women, their pay is equivalent with their median salary earning $1.01 for every dollar earned by men.
  • Women at Manager/Sr Manager level earn $0.96 and Director/Sr Director earn $0.90 for every dollar earned by men in base salary at equivalent levels.
  • Median total compensation including salary, target bonus, and annual equity value was mostly aligned at the VP level with women earning $1.01 for every $1 by men, and Manager/Sr Manager women earning $0.96 for every $1 by men at an equivalent level. Women at the Director/Sr Director level earned $0.63 in median total compensation and $0.90 in base salary, so value tends to swing higher for men on both cash and equity value at this level.

If you would like to receive the aggregated data, take this brief survey and we will share with you current compensation benchmarks for leadership roles upon completion. We also have ongoing benchmarking surveys for recruiting team size and productivity, DEI, and broader recruiting team compensation.

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