April 2018 was the deadline by which large UK firms (those with more than 250 people in their employ) had to publish their pay data. The government deadline was set in order to explore whether the gender pay gap was still a prevailing issue, and if it was, how badly skewed the pay rates were between men and women.
Law firms were among the first to respond, according to The Law Society Gazette. To investigate the data further, we’re joined by accident at work solicitor firm, True Solicitor:

The April deadline

The British government requested pay data to be published by 4th April 2018. The results can be accessed here. Though it came as no surprise that the pay gap was still prevalent, the sheer scale of difference between men and women’s pay across businesses was quite alarming. The Independent reported on Ryanair’s revelation that women are paid 67% less in their company for example.

Law firm pay

Comparatively, law firms didn’t reflect too badly in their pay data, but there is indeed still a gap. A law firm in South Yorkshire reported that the women in their workplace earned a 15.9% less median hourly rate compared to their male counterparts. However, a London-based law firm saw their women’s median hourly rate at 37.4% lower than men’s.

2018 saw the largest international survey of women in law, with The Law Society receiving responses from 7,781 people. The study found that while 60% were aware of a pay gap problem in their workplace, only 16% reported seeing anything being actively done about it. 74% of men said there was progress regarding the difference in pay between the genders, but only 48% of women agreed with that statement.

Why is there a gap in gender pay?

What factor, or factors, are contributing to the gender pay gap? Is it a difference in bonuses, or are higher job positions less readily available for women?

Women received a median bonus pay that was 20% lower than their male co-workers, according to data published by the previously referenced South Yorkshire law firm. The London-based firm noted a 40% lower median bonus pay for women compared to men. It clear that bonuses are also suffering from the same gender discrimination as standard wages. Furthermore, in terms of job roles, The Law Society’s survey showed 49% of law workers believe that an unacceptable work/life balance is needed to reach senior roles and is to blame for the gender pay gap, so it is feasible that starting a family is deemed a disadvantage for women.

There’s a difference in view between men and women starting a family, says The Balance Careers, with men being regarded favourably when starting a family. But for a woman, having children brings an unfair stigma of unreliability, that they may put their family first. This can cause discrimination when aiming for higher roles within the firm, such as partner positions.

Women in higher roles

Sadly, for women who attain the status of partner in a law firm, the pay gap remains. In fact, according to The Financial Times, female partners in London-based law firms earn on average 24% less compensation than men. 34% of women earn less than £250,000, where 15% of men earn less than £250,000.

Dealing with the pay gap

The BBC published many ideas for how to resolve the gender pay gap. These suggestions include:

• Better, balanced paternity leave — allowing fathers to take paternity leave, or having a shared parental leave, would allow mothers to return to work earlier.
• Childcare support — childcare is expensive! Support for childcare expenses would help both men and women in the workplace.
• Allowing parents to work from home — the ability to work from home while raising a family would open up additional opportunities for women to balance both a career and a family.
• A pay raise for female workers — a simple solution, but a pay raise for women can quickly equalise the pay rate between men and women.

Posted by Patrick Doherty