Female employees at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer now earn more than male staff on average, according to figures published by the magic circle firm. So far, very few City practices have attained this result.

Freshfields’ 2020 pay gap report shows that its mean gender pay gap for employees has narrowed year-on-year from 3.8% (in favour of men) to -1.1% (in favour of women).

The firm’s overall gender pay gap – which includes employees and partners – also dropped, from 57.2% in 2019 to 54.5% in 2020. For partners, the mean gender pay gap dropped eight percentage points to 2.4%.

On ethnicity, Freshfields reported an overall pay gap of 59.5%, from 66.4% in 2019. Some 21% of UK partners and employees identified as black, Asian, or minority ethnic (BAME) at the time the data was recorded. The firm said it has ‘relatively few senior BAME partners’ and aims to double the number of black associates in the firm by 2026.

Earlier this month the firm also announced an 'ambitious' set of diversity targets under the leadership of its first female senior partner, Georgia Dawson, pledging that women will occupy at least 40% of leadership roles by 2023.

At Slaughter and May, the employee gender pay gap rose from 16.2% to 17.1%. However, its overall pay gap, covering employees and partners, fell from 66.4% to 63.4%. On ethnicity, the firm posted an overall pay gap of 50.8% down from 54.1%.

In its report, Slaughter and May said it has started a flexible working pilot in the wake of the pandemic. ‘Our approach is gender neutral and not limited to women, but we expect this to have a positive impact for women and working parents.'

Elsewhere in the City, Linklaters, Eversheds Sutherland, Hogan Lovells, Clifford Chance and Clyde & Co have also published their pay gap reports. All employers have until 5 October 2021 to file the information.