There was a 20% gender pay gap at top UK law firms in April 2020 according to research.
The Law Society scrutinised the 42 law firms submitting data for the snapshot date of 31 March or 5 April last year, for which the deadline for reporting was in October 2021, finding that the average woman was paid a fifth more per hour than her male counterpart.
Using the median calculation – the middle-earning man when ranked by hourly pay against the middle-earning woman – the pay gap was even higher at 32%.
These figures are both higher than the 14% mean gap and 13% median pay difference reported across al sectors to the national gender pay gap service.
Across the law businesses submitting data for both 2017 and 2020, the mean gender pay gap decreased slightly but the gap in median pay actually increased marginally.
A total of 28 law companies who reported for 2017 and 2020 saw a decrease in their mean gender pay gap based on hourly pay, 12 experienced an increase and one saw no change. Based on the median, 20 firms experienced a drop and 21 firms saw a rise.
Although a similar proportion of men (58%) and women (60%) received bonuses in the pay period covering the 2020 snapshot date, the average gap between the mean value of men’s and women’s bonuses at the comparable organisations stood at a striking 39%.
According to a Law Society report, the analysis points to a need for law firms and organisations to investigate beyond the headline median, mean and pay quartile figures that must be reported, and further analyse the specific causes of pay gaps internally.
“Employers should tailor action accordingly, considering the impact of the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic and changes to ways of working on gender equality. Setting objectives to improve gender equality and women’s representation at senior levels over the next five years will help, for example, using the annual pay gap reports to monitor progress against those plans,” the report stated.