How much should you earn? It depends


A man hired last year as the general manager of a fast-casual restaurant in the Pacific Northwest likely started at a salary of more than $60,000 a year—about 6 percent more than a woman in the same position would have made, and 22 percent more than a male peer in the Midwest. 

That’s just one of the disparities in restaurant management salaries that has been brought to light by a new study of compensation levels by Gecko Hospitality, an executive placement agency that specializes in the hospitality business. Its survey of nearly 1,200 restaurant personnel in management positions, from assistant manager through executive chef, manager and director of operations, shows that pay can vary widely from region to region, and invariably from man to woman.

In nearly every occasion, men made significantly more than women holding the same title. Nationally, a man hired as a director of operations for a casual chain in 2015 started at a salary of $108,333. A woman in the same post was hired at $67,000, according to the Gecko data.

Changing jobs merely widened the gap, the study found. A man who switched to from one quick-service position to another typically raised his salary by $6,246—a 30-percent premium over the increase for a woman making the same career jump.

There was one instance where the gender gap was reversed: A female assistant manager at a fine-dining restaurant was hired at $56,500 on average, or $1,500 more than a man was paid from day one.

The survey, conducted between May the end of 2015, show salaries tend to be higher in the Pacific Northwest, a notoriously tight management market.

Other findings underscore that the industry remains a business of opportunity for business people who lack a college degree. Forty-nine percent of general managers, 51 percent of assistant restaurant managers and 33 percent of operations directors did not pursue a degree after high school.


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