The gender pay gap across the entire workforce at magic circle firms Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Slaughter and May has been revealed after demands from a committee of MPs.
Freshfields reported a mean pay gap of 60.4% when partners are included; at Slaughter and May it was 61.8%.
Both firms declined to include partners when reporting their pay gap data under the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations earlier this year on the grounds that the legislation requires only employees’ pay to be compared. With partners not included the pay gap at Freshfields was 13.9% while at Slaughters it was 14.3%.
The revision of the figures follows a request from the House of Commons’ Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee for each of the five magic circle firms to incorporate partners into their data. At an evidence session last month, Slaughter and May’s head of HR, Louise Meikle, was critcised by the committee for the omission of partners.
Linklaters and Clifford Chance had already included partners in their gender pay gap reports. Allen & Overy, which comes in for particular criticism from the committee, was alone in not reporting its data. The firm previously told the Gazette it will report this information in September.
The debate over whether partners should be included was sparked by the ‘big four’ professional services firms, KPMG, EY, PwC and Deloitte, who all revised data following comments by Lloyd’s of London chief executive Inga Beale and Law Society vice president Christina Blacklaws.
Rachel Reeves, chair of the BEIS Committee, said today: ‘It will surprise no-one that including partners in reporting reveals a wider gender pay gap. The picture wasn’t a pretty one but the big four firms at least acknowledged the problem by including partner data, a social duty which somehow escaped, with some exceptions, the major law firms.’
She added: 'A&O can’t even come clean on its partner data now. It’s easy to talk the talk on diversity and inclusion but if a business is dragging its feet on providing even basic information about its gender pay gap then it begs the question of how seriously it takes its responsibilities to valuing all its staff and how dedicated it is to committing to promote female associates to partner level.’
In its letter A&O said it was committed to supporting women at work and ensuring they progress their career at the firm.
The published letters also include details on the proportion of female associates and female partners at the firms. Clifford Chance revealed that since 2010 promotions to partners were 33% female and 66.7% male. Freshfields said that since 2015, 42% of partner promotions have gone to women.