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Reaping the Benefits: Wal-Mart’s H. Lee Scott Retail’s Highest Earner

Performance-based bonuses catalyzed compensation among the top retail executives in 2003, with the usually frugal Wal-Mart leading the charge.

Casting aside compensation packages that spiked as the result of guaranteed onetime payouts, salaries in general reflected the growing strength of the retail market as a whole.

“Compensation, whether up or down, is always based on the consequence of the results,” said Terre Simpson, president of executive search firm Simpson Associates. “There’s never a trend other than the trend of the business.”

“The only reason [the executives are] making money is because they’re achieving certain goals, so that’s great,” said Reiter. “Their interests are coincident with the interest of the shareholders.”

A dearth of female executives continues to exist. However, according to Simpson, even that may be starting to change.

“I think it’s opening up. I think you have to go down to the second level, that’s where there are some very competent and qualified females and males. Over the last couple of years you’ve seen more females,” said Simpson.

— With contributions from Sharon Edelson
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