The short answer to this question is yes. In the legal sector, there remains a clear and wide pay gap between male and female colleagues.
Wages are considered a taboo subject, and many people do not like to discuss how much they earn. However, it is necessary to discuss wages because even today in modern-day society women are still paid on average 9.1% less than their males colleagues. There is a clear disparity between male and female wages in the UK that must be discussed. Even in the legal sector, the pay gap is prominent. The magic circle law firms, Clifford Chance and Linklaters, reported that men are paid on average 60% more than their female colleagues.
Whilst the novel intentions of the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Information) Regulations Act 2017 require firms to report and publish the gender pay gap, it is evident that there is still a long way to go before full wage equality is achieved.
The Act places a duty on companies to publish annual information relating to pay under Section 2 (1). This includes:
(a) the difference between the mean hourly rate of pay of male full-pay relevant employees and that of female full-pay relevant employees;
(b) the difference between the median hourly rate of pay of male full-pay relevant employees and that of female full-pay relevant employees ;
(c) the difference between the mean bonus pay paid to male relevant employees and that paid to female relevant employees;
(d) the difference between the median bonus pay paid to male relevant employees and that paid to female relevant employees;
(e) the proportions of male and female relevant employees who were paid bonus pay; and
(f) the proportions of male and female full-pay relevant employees in the lower, lower middle, upper middle and upper quartile pay bands.
The deadline for reporting the gender pay gap in public bodies in the UK was the 30 March 2018 and all companies were due to report their gap by 4 April 2018.
In a study published by legal recruiter Major, Lindsey & Africa, it was revealed that an average compensation for a male colleague was 24% higher than a female colleague, with male partners compensation at £667, 521 and a female partner receiving £502,841.
A study commissioned by The Law Society in 2016 revealed the gender pay gap based on average annual earnings between male and female private practice solicitors was 19.2%. Furthermore, the study showed that male assistant/associate solicitors earn 10.6% more than their female co-workers.
Top magic circle law firm Linklaters was the first to reveal their gender pay gap. The firm reported that male employees earn nearly 60% more in bonuses than women. The report displayed than in terms of hourly pay the gender pay gap is 23%, rising to 40% using a median average.
The magic circle firm Clifford Chance has gone beyond the statutory provision to display data of the gender pay gap based on employee wages, further displaying the gender pay gap between partners. The data displays that based on hourly rates of pay, women’s mean pay is 20.3% lower than mean. The median gap is 37.2%. Whilst their intention is admirable, other City law firms have followed suit in providing gender pay gap data. In terms of general trends, the gender pay gap is widest in US firms.
As for Allen & Overy, their gender pay gap report 2017 revealed that the mean hourly rate is 19.8% less for women than men, with the median being 27.4% less. In terms of bonuses, the mean gender pay gap difference is 42.1% and the median is 23%.
Other firms including Shoosmiths, Pinsent Masons and Herbert Smith Freehills have also released gender pay gap reports. It is still evident that there remains a clear gap between and women and men.
Claire Rowe, CEO of Shoosmiths LLP stated that
‘We are pleased that Shoosmiths’ median pay gap stands below the national average but we recognise there is still more work to be done.’
These figures are indicative that there is still a clear disparity in the gender pay gap and that there is still a long way to go to close the gap and achieve full equality.
How do we close the gap?
The first step towards achieving equality was the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Information) Regulations Act 2017. Under the legislation, companies must legally publish and report specific figure about their gender pay gap. The report must be published by the 30 March for Public Sector Organisations each year and 4 April for businesses and charities. It is hoped that this will prompt companies to address and reflect on their gender pay gaps.
Whilst implementing legislation is a good step in the right direction to achieving and prompting companies and employers to address the pay gap, another important thing to consider is that people’s attitudes must change to raise awareness of the gender bias.
Clearly, this change won’t overnight, however, by consistently discussing and addressing the issue it is a good way to encourage people to promote equality and hopefully change the gender pay to become more equal.
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