Gender pay gap narrows slightly at A&O

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By Thomas Connelly on


‘Changes continue to be small’, says magic circle player, ‘but the overall trend is moving in the right direction’

Allen & Overy’s London office

Magic circle outfit Allen & Overy (A&O) narrowed its overall gender pay gap by less than one percentage point last year, according to its latest figures.

The outfit’s 2021 mean gender pay gap for UK partners and employees came in at 59.0%, a slight improvement on the 59.9% it recorded in the previous year.

But A&O’s gender pay gap among its UK partnership widened marginally, from 17.8% to 19.8%. In 2021, a little under a quarter (23%) of its partners were women, compared to 20% in the previous year.

The firm said the “year-on-year changes continue to be small, as we would expect, but the overall trend is moving in the right direction”.

Elsewhere, the firm’s ethnicity pay gap, including partners, remains unchanged at 22.4%, while the figure for UK partners came in at 8.7% — a slight widening on the 7.7% gap it recorded in 2020. Despite this, A&O said it was continuing to make “good progress” towards its target of 25% black and ethnic minority staff in London by 2025.

A&O also confirmed the mean combined pay gap for UK partners and employees with a disability had fallen from 20.2% to 13.3% in 2021.

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Commenting on the figures, A&O’s global HR director Sasha Hardman said:

“In most areas, we are seeing a decrease in pay gaps, particularly when we look at the longer-term picture from our first report in 2017 to now. Where pay gaps exist they are a reflection of the make-up of our workforce, particularly at the senior end of our business. This is what we are working hard to change.”

She continued: “In our last report, some six months into the pandemic in the UK, we talked about the risk of diversity and inclusion being forced down the priority list as other business considerations took precedence. But rather than divert our focus, it has given us more insight into what our colleagues need and greater momentum to make progress than I have seen at any time before.”

Elsewhere across the magic circle, Linklaters recorded overall gender and ethnicity pay gaps of 61.9% and 36.5%, respectively, while Freshfields recently released results showing a narrowing of its gender pay gap for the third year running. Clifford Chance, meanwhile, went public with its figures this month, whilst revealing for the first time its ‘social mobility pay gap’ data.

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