Tag Archives: Compensation

Sex, Smarts, Size, Salaries & You…

Underappreciated and overworked?

Discontent and dissatisfaction with compensation plans has long been a thorny topic: touching the heart, the head and the pocketbook.

Research suggests that your sex, intelligence, attractiveness and level of self-esteem—all play a part in determining what you earn and how happy you are about it.

Broadly boiling down the research:

  1. Men are still making more than women. While the glass ceiling may be shattering, the path to the top can still be characterized by a male-female earning disparity.
  2. More intelligent people outearn the less intelligent. A team evaluating data from the Harvard Study of Health and Life Quality found intelligence to be strongly associated with higher earnings.
  3. Those with facial attractiveness outearn those…um, well…less facially endowed. In the same study, people rated more physically attractive earned more. (Thankfully, though the impact was not as great as intelligence.)
  4. How you feel about yourself can impact your earnings potential. Those with higher self-esteem generally outearn the less confident. Self-confident people who grew up in more affluent situations earned a whopping $1,200,000 over the course of their careers.
  5. Compensation satisfaction is directly linked to how much others around you earn. Compensation satisfaction was linked to how much peers earned. Those feeling undercompensated generally reported lower levels of happiness and work more hours in an effort to balance the scales.

I conducted a series of interviews this week with employees of an organization that is rewriting the rules of compensation, has its workforce pumped up and is producing exponential revenue growth and profitability. At first, I couldn’t understand what seemed so strange about hearing excited, energetic and empowered people rave about their own organization and then it hit me…I’d never heard a whole group of employees excited about a comp plan before… you?



Timothy A. Judge, Charlice Hurst, and Lauren S. Simon. Does It Pay to Be Smart, Attractive, or Confident (or All Three)? Relationships Among General Mental Ability, Physical Attractiveness, Core Self-Evaluations, and Income. Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 94, No. 3

Paul D. Larson , Matthew Morris , (2014) “Sex and salary: Does size matter? (A survey of supply chain managers)”, Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, Vol. 19 Iss: 4, pp.385 – 394

Eduardo Pérez-Asenjo. If happiness is relative, against whom do we compare ourselves? Implications for labour supply. Journal of Population Economics, 2010; 24 (4): 1411 DOI: 10.1007/s00148-010-0322-z

University Of Florida. “Positive Self-esteem In Youth Can Pay Big Salary Dividends Later In Life.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 May 2007.