COMMONS

'Magic Circle' law firm letters published by BEIS Committee

20 June 2018

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee publishes correspondence from the five ‘Magic Circle’ law firms following a request from the Committee for further details on their gender pay gap.

 Allen & Overy were alone among the five firms in refusing to comply with the Committee’s request for information, claiming they will report this information in September.

The published letters include details on pay and bonuses, on the proportion of female associates and female partners at the law firms, and the strategies these firms have implemented to tackle their pay gap.

Chair's comments

Rachel Reeves, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee said:

"It will surprise no-one that including partners in reporting reveals a wider gender pay gap. The picture wasn’t a pretty one but the Big Four accountancy firms at least acknowledged the problem by including partner data, a social duty which somehow escaped, with some exceptions, the major law firms.
 
"Allen & Overy can’t even come clean on its partner data now. It’s easy to talk the talk on diversity and inclusion but if a business is dragging its feet on providing even basic information about its gender pay gap then it begs the question of how seriously it takes its responsibilities to valuing all its staff and how dedicated it is to committing to promote female associates to partner level.
 
"In our inquiry we’ve been keen to examine issues around the compliance of businesses with reporting requirements on the gender pay gap, such as whether the regulations are properly capturing the salaries of staff, as well as exploring what steps companies are taking to address the pay gap. It is clear there are weaknesses in the reporting requirements, which firms such as Allen & Overy have been able to exploit, and we shall be looking at what recommendations we can make to ensure that businesses are taking their responsibilities on fair pay seriously."

In the course of this inquiry, the Committee received oral evidence from stakeholders with gender pay gap reporting obligations, including Slaughter and May, on the 15th of May. During this evidence session, the Director of Human Resources at Slaughter and May, Louise Meikle, provided the Committee with information about the firm’s gender balance at associate and partner levels and actions taken to promote female associates to partner level. The Committee then wrote to all the ‘Magic Circle’ firms, including Slaughter and May, to request they provide information on the same issues.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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