Legal Business Blogs

Gender diversity: pay gaps revealed at Addleshaw Goddard, Mishcon de Reya and Gowling WLG

A fuller picture of the legal industry’s gender pay gap issue is emerging as Addleshaw Goddard, Mishcon de Reya and Gowling WLG become the latest firms to reveal big earnings disparities.

Gender pay brackets at Addleshaw – published Tuesday (13 March) ahead of the 4 April deadline required by legislation brought in last year – reveal the firm paid its male staff on average 43.2% more in bonuses than women for the year to 5 April 2017. The median bonus figure was 33.3%.

Female employees were paid on average 23.8% less per hour than men, although again the median figure was lower at 16.4%.

In line with the reasons touted by other firms, Addleshaw pointed to a higher proportion of females being employed in junior and administrative roles, such as secretarial services where its PA population is 98% female, and fewer women in senior roles as the reason for the discrepancy between pay and bonus gaps. Human resources director Niki Lawson said this meant the firm’s pay gap was not an equal pay issue.

‘I don’t think the data for our sector is revealing anything we don’t already know but I hope it will help to drive greater accountability across the professional services community and even greater, collective commitment to addressing the underlying causes.’

Lawson said the firm was working to close the gap through a number of initiatives, including unconscious bias training and programmes it has introduced in recent years. Its female leadership programme Flourish began in 2012, after which nearly a third of partner promotions have been female, pushing overall representation in the UK partnership to 26% from 20%. The firm is targeting 30% female partnership by 2020.

Meanwhile, Mishcon pays men 42% more than women on average in bonuses, rising to 51% as a median figure. For hourly pay, men are paid 17% more on average, rising to 37% for the median figure.

‘As has been observed across the legal industry, the data is affected by the distribution of roles: we have many more women than men working in secretarial and legal operations roles,’ the firm said in its report. ‘In our business, 63% of our people are women. Our secretarial and legal operations roles are 97% women and make up 19% of the roles performed by women at the firm.’

Gowling WLG also published its numbers on its website recently. They reveal that the firm’s hourly pay is 25% higher for men on both a median and average basis, while bonuses are 64% higher for men on average, and 49% higher on a median basis. Again, the firm blames having proportionally more females in support roles than its lawyer population for the pay gap.

Regarding the bonus disparity, the firm said it has three bonus schemes but there is a higher proportion of females in the firm-wide scheme than in the director and fee-earner bonus schemes. The firm has a gender target of 30% female partnership by 2026.

‘We are confident we do not have an equal pay issue,’ the firm’s report said. ‘However, we are continuing to take steps to ensure that everyone within the firm has the same career opportunities, allowing them to access salary and bonus progression as they develop and advance through the firm.’

These numbers follow magic circle firm Allen & Overy, revealing on Monday (12 March) it paid its male staff on average more than 42% in bonuses than women, with the median bonus figure standing at 23%. 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.

Other firms to report include Linklaters, which last month revealed that it paid its male staff members nearly 60% more in bonuses than women. Taylor Wessing, Bird & Bird, Pinsent Masons and CMS have also reported their pay gaps.