The Gender Pay Gap – Law Firms

The Gender Pay Gap – Law Firms 21/06/2022

Gender Pay Gap – Why we must scrap

Why is the gender pay gap such an eminent topic? Well, it affects everyone. It directly affects the livelihood and sense of worth of women who are subject to lower salaries and being overlooked for partner or senior positions. It affects the place of the family (society’s most important unit) as starting a family can often be seen as a detriment for women in the workforce. Lastly, it affects the men who watch their sisters, mothers, colleagues and wives work tirelessly usurping the same level (if not more) effort and time to climb to the corporate ladder than that of their male counterparts and not reaping the same rewards.

Let’s take a look at the statistics in the legal sector

In the early days of their legal careers, men and women are usually on equal footing with regards to pay in law firms. The real disparities are seen at partner level. According to a survey by the National Association of Women, women account for 22% of equity partners and earn a mere 78% of what men do in identical roles.

A report conducted by the Law Society in October 2021 revealed that there was, on average 20% difference in pay between salaried men and women. The highest was at 39% much higher than the national pay gap of 14%. The median gap was at a staggering 32%.

What action is being taken?                                

It is not enough for us to merely recognise the inequality. We must act on it to bring about change. Fortunately, legal firms and the government alike have started to take a step in the right direction when it comes to evening out the playing field between men and women in the workplace.

In 2018, the government made it compulsory for firms to submit their pay gap data. This was a move towards more transparency. It empowered women as it provided them with the knowledge that, in fact, they are at a loss in comparison to their male colleagues.

Slow Progress          

This decades-long trend will not be remedied overnight. It’s essential for legal firms (both big and small) to take matters into their own hands. This can be achieved through actions such as hiring an auditor to make apparent the disparities in pay and by encouraging a higher proportion of female involvement in compensation committees to keep in-group bias at bay.

The simple act of setting out clear procedures to be followed when promoting, paying and rewarding gives clarity to employees and means hiring managers can be held accountable for the merits of their decisions as there is a review option available.

We are a long way from gender equality in terms of pay in the legal sector as demonstrated through the stats. However, if we continue to be vocal and proactive in the fight against gender-based discrimination, equality will prevail.

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