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Firms fail consistency test on gender pay gap
06 April 2018
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Firms have flocked to release their gender pay gap statistics as the deadline to produce the reports passed on 4th April, but have failed to agree on a consistent approach.

Under Equality Act legislation businesses with over 250 staff were under an obligation to reveal their gender pay gap data. Under the rules, law firms were not required to include partners in their gender pay reports as they were categorised as business owners rather than employees. However, high-profile figures such as politician Nicky Morgan and Lloyd's of London CEO Inga Beale lambasted the profession for its failure to do so. Other professional service industries, most recently the Big Four accountancy firms, reacted to the government, business and media pressure by amending their reports to include partners. 

The vast majority of law firms resisted the pressure. Even without partners, many of the results weren't pretty, although firms were quick to explain that they were skewed because a larger proportion of women occupy lower-paid, secretarial roles. The following table sets out employee data, i.e. the gender pay gaps excluding partners, on a mean basis (rather than median).

 
   

A handful of pioneering firms - those with asterisks next to their names in the table above - led the charge to be transparent and included partner stats. But a lack of consensus as to how to do it meant pretty much no two reports used the same method of incorporating partnership data. A spokeswoman for Pinsent Masons told RollOnFriday that it considered their approach to be "the most transparent and meaningful approach to the disclosure of partnership data". Others said similar. As all the firms claim that their method is the best, we're facing a format battle which could be more exciting than Betamax vs VHS, or even Zune vs iPod.

"This is the only format you'll need, trust me"   

In the meantime, it means that despite those firms attempts to be transparent by including partner data, the results are incapable of being compared on a like-for-like basis. As the table below shows, no one metric has been followed by them all, so even on this small scale it is just about useless. Until the profession comes up with an agreed approach, enjoy your chocolate-teapot.

     

* The percentage gender gap in both tables has been calculated by firms on a mean basis

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Please keep it nice. Thanks.

anonymous user
12/04/2018 16:18
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Since it's an utterly meaningless statistic anyway,* the lack of consistency doesn't actually reduce it's usefulness one whit.

*I write as a man employed at a law firm in which there is a gender pay gap in favour of women.
anonymous user
13/04/2018 07:43
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As there is no agreed reporting methodology, only the mindlessly naïve would not expect most firms to have reported in a manner that casts them in the least bad light possible.

These gender pay gaps are outrageous*. How anon user 16:18 can say they are "an utterly meaningless statistic" is beyond me. At the very least they show a trend, and one which has no place in 2018.

*I write as a male partner of a firm trying to redress the balance.
  

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