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.
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.