Gender pay gap stats are in for Ashurst, BLP, Charles Russell Speechlys, Stephenson Harwood and Walker Morris

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By Katie King on

Differences of one quarter to a third commonplace, though bonus gaps far higher

A quintet of law firms have released their gender pay stats, revealing bonus gaps of more than 60%.

This is the case, among others, at Ashurst, which has a bonus pay gap of 64.4% mean and 60.2% median. Among its lawyer and non-lawyer ranks, there’s a mean gender pay gap of 24.8%, while the median is 32.7%.

By law, namely the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017, all major businesses must release their gender pay data. This must take into account all staff members employed by the firm (so, no need for partners). Ashurst, a City outfit that offers around 45 training contracts annually, has gone one step further, and has released the gender pay gap of its ‘legal staff’.

Here, the gender pay gap is 16.4% (mean) and 21% (median). The bonus gap is more similar to the firm-wide figures: 62.6% mean and 55.2% median. This gap occurs because Ashurst has more women at trainee and junior level, the firm says in its report. Ashurst also says it’s addressing the gap in many ways, including: raising awareness of unconscious bias as part of its mandatory diversity training and reviewing the firm’s bonus plan.

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) too has released its figures.

The firm, which recently announced it’s set to merge with Bryan Cave, has revealed that across all non-partner staff, its pay gap is 22.3% mean and 36.8% median. Like Ashurst, BLP’s offering enables us to break this down by more comparable roles: male fee earners earn an average hourly rate 0.3% higher than women, while this figure’s 1.8% for business services.

Other stats from BLP, a firm with a female managing partner, include that the difference between average men and women’s bonus pay is 56.4% (mean) and 32.5% (median). Lisa Mayhew, managing partner of BLP, said:

“When it comes to the statistics that count, it’s equal pay, as it shows the direct comparable for those performing equal work, and I am very pleased by our achievement. However, we recognise that there is still work to be done to address our firm’s gender pay gap. This analysis will help us to shape our actions to achieve a more balanced business in the future.”

The third firm of our stat-releasing quintet is Charles Russell Speechlys, an 11-office outfit that offers just over 20 training contracts a year.

Like many firms to come before it, Charles Russell Speechlys has announced a gender pay gap in the 20s, specifically 22% mean and 28.1% median. This gap shrinks to a tenth of its size when you look specifically at female associates, who are paid a mean hourly rate 2.4% less than their male counterparts. As for female senior associates and legal directors, well they’re actually paid a little more: 2% and 0.5% respectively.

As for bonuses, 41% of women and 39% of men at Charles Russell Speechlys were awarded bonuses last year, and the bonus gap was 50.1% (mean) and 40% (median).

The firm says it’s “committed to improving diversity and inclusion”, and adds that it will continue to review “all family friendly policies to ensure we are an inclusive employer”. Other elements of its strategy include: training targeted at eliminating unconscious bias; its apprenticeship programme; its mentoring programme; and its flexible/agile working policies.

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Also releasing its gender pay stats of late is Stephenson Harwood, a City outfit that takes on approximately 18 trainees a year. Women’s hourly rate at this international firm is 24.7% lower (mean) for women, while the median is 39.8%.

It’s Stephenson Harwood’s bonus figures which are more striking, like many firms’. Women’s mean bonus pay is 48.2% less than men’s; the median’s higher: 62.4%. Stephenson Harwood says:

“Our analysis of our gender pay gap shows that it is largely driven by the distribution of women and men within different types of role in the firm and that there are more women in roles that fall within the lower pay quartiles. For example, 21% of the women in our firm work in secretarial roles.”

And finally (for today): Walker Morris. The gender pay gap at this Leeds outfit, which stresses it’s “confident that men and women are paid equally for performing the same jobs”, is 20% (mean) and 24% (median).

As for bonus pay, the gap here is 40.6% mean and 50% median. However, the firm’s report states: if “long service payments are excluded from the calculations”, the mean pay gap shrinks to 15.4% mean and -15.3% median (a negative figure means women receive more).

The firm says it’s “committed to gender equality” and is “proud of our employment practices”, which include its commitment to paying the living wage, ensuring staff members receive benefits and a pension, and its agile working policy.

Gender pay stats are flooding legal press pages as of late, as the 4 April deadline for reporting draws closer. Though we’ve written about stats from major City players including Herbert Smith Freehills, Mishcon de Reya and Pinsent Masons, plus three magic circle firms (Allen & Overy, Linklaters and Slaughter and May), there are still plenty of outfits in our The Firms Most List yet to release their data. Watch this space.

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