14 June 2018
Allen & Overy has refused to provide a parliamentary select committee with details of its partnership's gender pay gap.

Firms released their gender pay gap reports to comply with the Equality Act earlier this year, but because the legislation excluded employers, many firms carved out their partnerships. Critics accused them of trying to hide yawning pay gaps.

The chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, Labour MP Rachel Reeves, was particularly exercised by the omissions. In May she told Slaughter and May's human resources director, “What is being masked is the true gender pay gap”, and called the firm's report, which had been drawn up completely in accordance with parliament's requirements,"meaningless". 

RollOnFriday can reveal that Reeves subsequently wrote to the Magic Circle firms on Friday 25th May demanding that they provide her with their partnership gender pay gap figures within two weeks. A spokesman for the BEIS Committee confirmed the demand was made "following the reluctance to publicly disclose those figures by some of them".  A source told RollOnFriday that, considering the subject matter related to fair workplace practices, it was an interesting choice by Reeves to force the firms to scramble to produce the figures over half-term.
    "A parliamentary request, you say?"

Clifford Chance and Linklaters had already publicly released their partnership figures (CC's mean partner pay gap was 22%, Links was a minute 2.2%), and confirmed to RollOnFriday that they also submitted the information to the committee. Slaughter and May and Freshfields did the same, although they have not released their stats publicly.

Allen & Overy declined. It told the committee that it would not give up its numbers until September. A spokesman for the firm told RollOnFriday, "We were asked for a number we didn't have". He said that it would take another two months to obtain the figures because the firm was being "extremely rigorous". One firm queried the explanation, telling ROF that basic software was capable of undertaking the calculations near-instantaneously.

A&O's shyness has guaranteed that its figures will come under scrutiny. Its recalcitrance is all the more surprising given that it is very vocal about its inclusion and diversity initiatives. The latest may involve female partners receiving large lump sums into their bank accounts in the next eight weeks.

The architects of the legislation have also been criticised for completely failing to contemplate or draft for the structure of law firms. A spokesman for the select committee told RollOnFriday that its inquiry was also examining whether the reporting obligations "were properly capturing the salaries of staff". Given Reeves' crusade, probably not.
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Anonymous 15 Jun 18

If the legislation does not require companies to disclose dividend payment gender gap then why should profit distribution to self employed people be different. Shows that MPs have no idea about business structures or practices and thus should disqualify them from holding public office.

Anonymous 15 Jun 18

Two months to obtain the figures! They do realise they're not on an hourly rate for this work, don't they?

Anonymous 15 Jun 18

"Very vocal about its inclusion and diversity initiatives" you say. Those of us with longer memories will recall A&O loudly announced an amah-zing flexible working initiative in 2010 including partners...having first rather more quietly (avec NDAs) laid off swathes of flexible working staff & mat leave lawyers in 2009...

However, my contempt for that behaviour to one side - is it not as simple as to say depending on how many points you have, you have to bring x in fees and receive y in drawings, and as you progress up the partnership ladder you can acquire more points. That's pretty gender neutral when comparing apples with apples. The bigger issue is whether (a) it is an environment where women can readily make partner and (b) whether you wish to remain in that environment having done so. Much of that comes back to hours and I'd suggest is more a private practice problem than firm-specific.

Anonymous 15 Jun 18

Two months to disclose... well its a big building so they probably had to look pretty hard to find a woman partner and check what they pay them!

Anonymous 15 Jun 18

They should just refuse. They have no duty to report them. If the state wants to make it compulsory to report it then they need to change the law

Anonymous 16 Jun 18

Anon @7:23- Agreed. Partnerships should still be required to disclose this information however - not just on the basis they are profit recipients but they are the managers.

Anonymous 16 Jun 18

Anon @13:12. Talking about hours in this context limits the discussion to parents that are primary care givers. Whilst women might usually take this role, the constant equation of women = parent is obscuring the other difficulties women face becoming partners.

Until we separate problems for parents from women, we are giving some firms excuses about why all women, not primary care givers, are struggling to make it to partner (yes, I'm looking at you, certain groups at Linklaters) and also making it harder for those men who would like to be primary care giver.

Anonymous 18 Jun 18

maybe subject to one of their NDA's they use for nice client companies like Miramax (Weinstein)

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