Magic circle firm Clifford Chance has imposed gender and ethnicity targets for the next five years, in order to accelerate the ‘all-too-gradual pace of change’ in the legal sector.

In its annual report, Clifford Chance published an overall gender pay gap for employees and partners of 65.7% and an associate gender pay gap of 4.8%. The firm also published its ethnicity pay gap (51.6%); its sexuality pay gap (27.5%); and its disability pay gap (27%).

The firm said it wants women to make up at least 30% of its partnership by 2025 and aims to create a ‘more balanced secretarial population’. Women currently fill a ‘high proportion’ of lower paid secretarial roles. It has also introduced a target stating 15% of new partners should be be from ethnic minority backgrounds by 2025.

Meanwhile, Slaughter and May has reported the magic circle’s highest overall gender pay gap of 66.4%, up from 63.6% in 2018. Its associate gender pay gap stands at 4.7%, while its ethnicity pay gap for employees and partners is 54.1%. Freshfields, Allen & Overy and Linklaters have reported overall gender pay gaps of 57.2%, 61.5% and 62.6% respectively, and ethnicity pay gaps of 65%, 23.1% and 32.9%.

Ethnicity is high on the agenda of several City firms this year, with Freshfields claiming race is its ‘particular focus’ for 2020. It is taking steps ‘to encourage self-reporting on ethnicity and other characteristics, to increase our response rate and ensure our data is as robust as possible for future reporting’, it said. 

Eversheds Sutherland – which reported an overall gender pay gap of 57.8% and an ethnicity pay gap of 33.7% – has introduced ethnicity targets, striving for 10% Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) partners by 2025 and for 14% of employees and partners to be BAME by 2022.

The report suggested, however, that the ‘binary comparison’ of white versus minority ethnic hides ’significant variation’ between ethnic groups. For example, Eversheds Sutherland’s figures show that while Asian employees are paid 11.3% less than white employees on average, black employees are paid 34.4% less.