Legal Business Blogs

Slaughters becomes latest to reveal underwhelming gender and ethnicity pay gap

Slaughter and May has published its first partner-level pay gap report, revealing that male partners earn on average 8.9% more than their female counterparts.

Including all employees, the figures remained flat from 2017, with the mean pay gap between men and women standing at 14.4% and the median gap steady at 38.7%.

The firm’s ethnicity pay gap shows a larger divide, standing at 9.7%. However the ethnicity gap rises to a striking 51% average when including partners, or 19.4% on a median basis.

‘The way we remunerate our employees and the size and shape of our workforce have not changed during this reporting period and therefore our gender pay gap remains broadly the same,’ Slaughter and May’s executive partner Paul Stacey (pictured) said in a statement. ‘We have also published information on our ethnicity pay gap for the first time. We see this as an important step in opening up conversations about race in the workplace and working towards businesses reflecting society at large.’

There remain questions over how firms report their pay statistics, with such disparities expected when women overwhelmingly make up the lowest quartile of firmwide employees. Last November, the Law Society called for uniformity in pay gap reporting, publishing a set of recommendations to ensure reports were truly reflective of the disparities.

At Slaughters women make up 71% of the lowest quartile of employees, with the figure dropping significantly to 36.9% in the highest quartile. Starker still is the percentage of BAME employees in each quartile, with the highest quartile at the firm 83.4% white, where the mean pay gap stands at 14.6%. It remains compulsory for law firms to reveal their annual employee gender pay gaps, however firms can choose to exclude their partner-level and ethnicity pay gaps.

Elsewhere, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s second pay gap report saw some improvement. The overall median pay gap between men and women fell from 13.3% to 6.2%, while falling from 13.9% to 5.7% on a mean basis. However, just 13.5% of the firm’s partnership identifies as BAME, signalling more to do at the Magic Circle outfit.

Linklaters reported a mean pay gap of 20.8% for 2018, and a median gap of 33.9%, both decreases on last year. The firm is 84% white within its top quartile, while across the firm the mean ethnicity gap stands at 30.3%. Magic Circle counterpart Clifford Chance had a slightly better story to tell on gender, with an almost 50/50 split at its top pay quartile between men and women. However the mean partnership gender pay gap stands at 25.9%, and rises to 30.5% on a median basis.

With the pay gap reporting so far not making for inspiring reading at the top level of law, firms will be under yet more pressure to ensure the figures improve for 2019.