Do the perceptions of female and millennial stock plan participants differ from those of their older or male colleagues? Are there differences between female and male participants with respect to selling behavior? And what are the biggest drivers of effective equity compensation?
Fidelity Stock Plan Services set out to find the answers to these questions in a participant survey they conducted last year.
The survey queried participants from more than 170 companies and emphasizing themes related to gender and age. The researchers oversampled based on similar asset levels to control for variables that might skew toward demographics that could be overrepresented at particular levels.
The results were somewhat surprising, underscoring that when it comes to stock plans, satisfaction is less about who you are and more about how much you know.
Gender and age matter, but not a lot
In most areas the survey covered, differences by gender were relatively small. There were greater variances with age, with older participants outperforming younger. Some attitudes and behaviors were impacted in more dramatic ways. Here are a few examples:
- Women and older participants are more engaged. When looking at participants with similar asset levels, women outperform men and older participants outperform younger participants on all engagement indicators.
- Older participants feel more ownership. When asked if “...my stock plan provides me with a sense of ownership in the company,” 64% of older participants agree, while just 53% of millennials agree.
- Most men feel they understand their plans. About 66% of male respondents reported understanding their plans very well, while just 48% of women feel that way. Younger participants were also less likely to report good understanding. While this data is self-reported (and respondents weren’t actually tested on their knowledge), it nevertheless could reflect a difference in confidence that plan administrators might seek to address in their communications programs.
- Women execute options at higher gain. Women execute stock options at a higher gain on average compared to their male counterparts. The mean average gain for women is 6% higher than the mean average gain for men.
- For RSUs, women either sell fast or hold on tight. Women are more likely to hold onto shares from their restricted stock grants than men, but when they do sell, they do it quickly, typically “flipping” the shares within the first two weeks.
- Millennials don’t always prefer digital. In one of the more counterintuitive results from the survey, tech-savvy millennials reported a preference for getting information about stock option programs from other people, such as friends, family and coworkers. This underscores the importance of offering interactive information sessions and workshops where young participants can ask questions one-on-one.
Knowledge is the great equalizer
While age and gender impact some attitudes and behaviors related to equity programs, far more important to overall satisfaction and plan effectiveness is understanding.
Male or female, old or young, 72% of people who feel they understand their plans are very satisfied with them, and just 49% of people who don’t understand their plans feel the same.
Participants who feel they understand their plans are more loyal to their employers and motivated to do their best work, all by statistically significant margins.
That understanding is something plan administrators have the power to influence, and it makes sense to tailor educational programs to the needs of different age and gender groups based on their perceptions.
You can get more findings from the Fidelity survey by tuning in to our Webinar replay, “How Gender and Age Impact Perceptions of Equity Compensation.”