Legal Business Blogs

Freshfields trounces rivals as Global 100 firms release gender pay stats

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has become the penultimate Magic Circle firm to publish statistics on the disparity between male and female employee earnings, performing well ahead of its peers to date.

The firm today (22 March) revealed it pays male staff on average 13.9% more than female fee-earners, a gap which closes to 13.3% when the median figure is taken into account.

While more women than men received a bonus – 64.5% of women compared with 58.9% of men, by value men received 41% on average over the past 12 months, with the median figure standing at 33.3%.

‘There is still a significant amount of work to be done in relation to gender balance’, the firm said in a statement.

But Freshfields has done significantly better than the Magic Circle rivals that have filed their figures so far ahead of the statutory 4 April deadline.

Linklaters did not fare so well, revealing that it paid its male staff members nearly 60% more in bonuses than women. The firm’s female employees were paid on average 23.2% less than male colleagues. The gap widened to 39.1% when the median figure was considered.

Allen & Overy did better, revealing that the firm’s female employees were paid on average 19.8% less per hour than their male counterparts, a gap which widened to 27.4% when the median figure was calculated. Male A&O staff were paid on average more than 42% in bonuses than women for the 12 months to 5 April 2017, with the median bonus figure standing at 23%.

Meanwhile Slaughter and May paid male employees almost 55% more in bonuses compared to women. Men also earned 14% more than women on average, with the gap widening to 38.5% when the figures were considered on a median basis.

Freshfields’ figures for trainee pay show that males receive 6% more than females, with the median figure at 7.39%. For business services roles, men have a 6.23% advantage in pay while women overtake by a 7.77% margin when calculated on a median basis.

Taking into account the upper quartile of fee-earners at Freshfields, men earn 10.4% than female counterparts, while the gap shrinks to 3.6% for the upper-mid quartile. Men in the lower-mid quartile have a 2.7% pay advantage while women have a slight 1.7% advantage in the lower quartile pay band.

It will be interesting to see how Clifford Chance – the remaining Magic Circle firm to file its gender pay statistics before the deadline – compares.

Meanwhile, White & Case has revealed one of the largest gaps in bonus payments to men and women so far – 71%, however the mean figure narrows the gap to 45%. This comes despite a similar number of women and men receiving bonuses at the firm, with 44% of female employees receiving a bonus compared to 46% of men.

The median overall pay gap between men and women stands at 31%, before dropping to 24% when the mean figure is considered. As with many other law firms, White & Case maintains the discrepancy can be explained by the distribution of men and women across different roles at the firm.

Elsewhere, Reed Smith has put additional pressure on rivals by including partners in its pay gap report. The data signals progress at the highest level of the firm, with the mean pay gap between partners standing at 0.83%, with the median figure rising to 8%.

However, the bonus gap between male and female partners stands at 21.5% with the median figure rising to 31% and the overall gender imbalance at Reed Smith shows there is still work to be done, with 77% of partners at the firm being men.

The general statutory data reveals a mean pay gap of 14.8% between men and women across all staff, which rises to 37.1% on a median basis, while the mean bonus gap stands at 27.1%, but drops to 13.2% on a median basis. This gap exists despite 76.9% of female employees receiving bonuses compared to 71.9% of men.

The move from Reed Smith to publish partner data is a rare step and not required under The Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017. It follows the move, revealed earlier this week, by the Big Four accountancy firms to reveal their pay gaps for equity partners.