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Macfarlanes holds hands up to significant gender pay gap at partner level

In another stark example of the disparity in the treatment of men and women within City law, Macfarlanes has revealed an average gender pay gap of 55% at partner level.

On a median income basis, the gap between the firm’s male and female partners is even higher: a stark 73%. A key factor making this gulf so pronounced is the feeble female representation in its partnership ranks:  in the 2017/18 financial year just 12 of Macfarlanes’ 85 partners were female.

However, in publishing the figures, Macfarlanes becomes the second law firm after Allen & Overy (A&O) to disclose its gender pay data ahead of the April 2019 deadline. At the Magic Circle firm, male partners are paid 61.2% more on average while on a median basis the disparity is reduced to 39%.

Previously Macfarlanes, and the majority of law firms, had opted not to include the specific pay gap between its partners and instead offered an overall firm statistic. But after political pressure, particularly after A&O was hounded by a government select committee over such lack of disclosure, firms are now under pressure to include partner pay data.

With the inclusion of Macfarlanes’ partnership figures, the firm’s overall pay gap which includes associates and business support staff, sits at 75% on average and 49% on a median basis.

The associate pay gap is far narrower than the firm’s partnership discrepancy, with male associates being paid 4% more on both a mean and median basis. According to the firm, this slight gap was caused by the introduction of a bonus scheme in July 2017, in which a larger number of men received a bonus than women.

Macfarlanes said more men received this bonus because more male solicitors went out on secondment, and it vowed to review the bonus scheme for the next financial year.

Senior partner Charles Martin told Legal Business: ‘It’s all about culture and moving forward as an organisation. Making progress in this regard is very high up our list of priorities.

‘It’s a combination of culture, momentum and drive to see progress, and also a lot of important nitty-gritty small changes that collectively make a big difference.’

The firm’s human resources director, Hilary Maurice added: ‘We have gone a step further in putting out more details than has been required. A lot of other firms are saying the gap is a result of the structure of the firm. ’

Among Macfarlanes’ business services staff, men earned 7% more on average but on a median basis there was a 0.5% gap in favour of women.