JCK Annual Salary Survey

The gender gap is narrowing. The glass ceiling is coming closer to shattering.

At least, that’s the way it appears in the latest salary study, an annual review of jewelers’ compensation plans as reported in the JCK Retail Jewelers Panel. The panel’s 450 respondents represent primarily independent jewelers across America.

The median salaries of women in most job categories in retail jewelry stores, from bosses to salespeople, rose in the past year.

One reason is that there are more seasoned female professionals and industry veterans moving into positions of authority in the retail industry. One good example is Zale Corp., the largest U.S. jewelry retailer. Its new chief executive officer and the presidents of its two major chains (Zales and Gordon’s) are women who have worked their way up in the industry and have impressive track records in retail and jewelry store management.

The results also indicate a growing recognition of women’s value to the success of a retail business – and of the importance of rewarding them equally compared to their male colleagues.

“We don’t distinguish between men and women in salary for a specific position,” says one New York City jeweler. “It is the quality of excellence that we pay for.”

Salary reports in the 1997 study can’t be compared exactly with those of previous years, because not all stores participate every year. Nevertheless, the general rise in salaries levels seen in this year’s survey results indicates that more companies in this traditionally patriarchal industry are thinking the same way as that New York City jeweler.

The rise in women’s salaries is evident in many jobs, starting with the very top executives (see chart). However, the rise is perhaps most evident at the level of store manager and assistant manager – the employees poised to be the next generation of the industry’s highest executives.

While the median for men’s total salaries was virtually unchanged from 1995, that for women managers rose some 15%. The increase is even more evident in the women’s base salaries (before commissions and bonuses): they show a 22% gain over 1995 from $25,399 to $31,001.

Despite the encouraging results, the range of salaries paid to men and to women in the jewelry industry still shows significant differences. For example, the salary range for male chairmen, presidents, owners or partners in 1996 stretched from $16,000 to $2 million. For women in the very same positions, the range was more limited: $26,000 to $261,000.

Also, the gender gap remains apparent in some areas of compensation. While the salary gap is narrowing, the one in commissions and bonuses is still wide open (see accompanying chart).

According to the survey, the median for top male executives’ bonuses and commissions in 1996 was three times that for women. It was double for male vice presidents, treasurers and controllers. In technical areas, gemologists, jewelers, buyers, goldsmiths, benchworkers and watchmakers made at least twice as much as their female counterparts in commissions and bonuses.

Interestingly, in those jobs where men and women compete head to head for sales and commissions – as managers and salespeople – women generally earned twice as much as men.

In other areas, the survey offered encouraging finds too. The news was good for the job categories of jewelers, gemologists, goldsmiths and buyers. Both men and women showed gains in median salaries (though the sample of women in this segment was smaller).

One troubling area of the survey was that those employees on the front lines of retail warfare – the salespeople who are the keys to a store’s success – are still benefiting little from store sales or profit increases. According to the survey, the median salary for full-time salespeople was just $21,125 for men and $19,500 for women. That is well below the national median of $24,232 annually (estimated) for all salesworkers, regardless of industry, according to government figures for 1996.

JCK SALARY SURVEY:
COMMISSIONS & BONUSES (1996)
All Stores

JOB TITLE Median Range
Chairman, president, owner, partner (men) $19,875 $2,000-$260,000
Chairman, president, owner, partner (women) $6,000 $10–$181,000
Vice president, treasurer, controller (men) $9,000 $500–$93,204
Vice president, treasurer, controller (women) $4,900 $600–$80,000
Store manager (men) $5,060 $300–$25,000
Store manager (women) $7,050 $300–$27,000
Asst. store manager (men) $4,975 $500–$10,000
Asst. store manager (women) $6,000 $500–$10,000
Jeweler, gemologist, goldsmith, buyer (men) $4,966 $400–$55,000
Jeweler, gemologist, goldsmith, buyer (women) $1,966 $400–$2,000
Benchworker, jewelry repair (men) $3,100 $600-$52,000
Benchworker, jewelry repair (women) $1,250 $300–$3,000
Watchmaker (men) $22,101 $500–$52,000

JCK SALARY SURVEY:
WHO EARNS WHAT MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARIES (all stores)

JOB TITLE 96 total 96 base ’96 total salary range 95 total 95 base
Chairman, president, owner, partner (men) $50,016 $51,006 $16,000-$2 million $50,045 $49,933
Chairman, president, owner, partner (women) $40,000 $35,000 $26,000-$261,000 $30,000 $25,000
Vice president, treasurer, controller (men) $55,133 $40,800 $15,000-$158,143 $38,000 $38,000
Vice president, treasurer, controller (women) $43,400 $36,053 $22,000-$120,000 $42,078 $38,978
Store manager (men) $39,990 $34,871 $18,000-$85,000 $40,617 $34,652
Store manager (women) $36,100 $31,001 $21,000-$75,000 $31,298 $25,399
Asst. store manager (men) $22,500 $24,666 $14,000-$65,000 $26,000 $18,000
Asst. store manager (women) $29,250 $27,000 $20,000-$46,000 $26,938 $20,500
Jeweler, gemologist, goldsmith, buyer (men) $35,000 $32,100 $22,500-$75,000 $30,333 $29,875
Jeweler, gemologist, goldsmith, buyer (women) $26,750 $27,000 $18,000-$40,000 $19,000 $16,640
Benchworker, jeweler repair (men) $30,062 $23,875 $19,000-$52,000 $30,215 $25,083
Benchworker, jeweler repair (women) $24,000 $22,000 $15,000-$32,000 $32,050 $30,950
Watchmaker (men) $36,000 $26,250 $20,000–$52,000 $31,684 $26,250
Watchmaker (women) $26,000 $26,000 $22,000–$28,683 * *