Gender pay gap shrinks at Freshfields

updated on 14 April 2020

The gender pay gap for partners and employees at Freshfields has reduced to 57.2% according to figures published at the end of March 2020.

The magic circle firm’s gender pay gap has dropped from 60.4% in 2017 to the most recent figure of 57.2%. The difference in associate pay is 3.2% and the gender pay gap for partners is 10.4%, a significant improvement on last year’s figure of 18.3%.

According to the Law Gazette, Freshfields put the narrowing of its gender pay gap down to the hiring of women in senior roles, as well as compensation for some women in the most senior positions. The firm said: “We have seen a reduction in the pay gap for partners driven in the main by fewer men at the top of the lockstep model compared to the previous year.”

Despite the shrinking gender pay gap, recent figures highlighted a rise in Freshfields’ ethnicity pay gap to more than 65%. In its annual report the firm confirmed that race and ethnicity is now its “particular focus” and it is working “to encourage self-reporting on ethnicity and other characteristics, to increase our response rate and ensure our data is as robust as possible for future reporting”.

This year’s figures show that on average BAME employees are paid 19.9% less per hour than white employees – an increase on last year’s figure of 12.1%. This pay gap increases further to 66.4% when partners are included – an increase on last year’s figure of 58.3%.

The firm stated: “As it was last year, our pay gap is predominately driven by the fact that we have relatively few senior BAME professionals at the firm, something we are working to address.”

Magic circle firm Allen & Overy reported a gender pay of 61.5%, while Linklaters’ gender pay gap is 62.6%. The two firms’ employee gender pay gaps are currently at 17.5% and 19.5% respectively.

Following these recent reports, Clifford Chance published an overall gender pay gap, including employees and partners, of 65.7%, with its associate gender pay gap at 4.8%. The magic circle firm has proposed gender and ethnicity targets for the next five years, including the goal for women to make up at least 30% of its partnership by 2025, while also aiming to create a “more balanced secretarial population”.

The firm’s ethnicity pay gap is reported to be 51.6%.

Slaughter and May’s overall gender pay gap has seen an increase from its 2018 figure (63.6%) to 66.4%, according to recent reports.