Clifford Chance reports ‘class pay gap’

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By Aishah Hussain on


Magic circle firm discloses average difference in pay for staff from working, intermediate and professional backgrounds for first time

Clifford Chance has reported its ‘social mobility pay gap’ data for the first time, revealing a 44.1% difference in average pay between staff from a ‘working class’ and those from a ‘professional’ background.

The firm asked employees and partners for the occupation of the main earner in their household when aged 14. The responses were then grouped into three broad categories, working class, intermediate class and professional, in line with the Office for National Statistics classifications.

Clifford Chance said the responses showed a 26% pay gap between those from a working class background and those from an intermediate background. The gap between the intermediate and professional classes was 24.4%.

The results were based on a 49% disclosure rate, meaning just under half of all UK staff responded to the question.

UK managing partner, Michael Bates, said:

“We believe that understanding more about our socio-economic diversity is crucial if we are to become the truly inclusive firm we wish to be.”

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Clifford Chance also reported its gender and ethnicity pay gaps for 2021.

The firm’s gender pay gap narrowed for employees from 19.1% to 16.6%, but widened by 1.4% to 64.9% when its high-earning partners are included.

Its ethnicity gap for partners and employees went up by 6.1% to 53.6%, but taking partners out of the equation, the firm reported a negative ethnicity gap, meaning the average pay of those from a minority ethnic background is higher than those who are white.

Bates added: “We are pleased to see the numbers shift in the right direction, but the gaps remain unsatisfactory. There is work still to do and it will take time to see more substantial changes in our data. But we believe nurturing our unique culture, and ensuring it is truly diverse and inclusive, will have the greatest impact on our ability to close our pay gaps over the coming years.”

Fellow magic circle firms Freshfields and Linklaters have disclosed their 2021 pay gap data, with both firms reporting decreases in their overall gender pay gap stats.

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