CMS Gender pay gap stats

Recent data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) on the Gender Pay Gap (based on earnings of full-time and part-time workers) displayed a positive shift from 19.2% to 18.1% towards the end of 2016. According to the Law Society, the gender pay gap across all private practice solicitors in England stood at 30% (Law Society, 2014). Whilst this is significantly higher than the wider UK average, the legal sector is far from unique in its less than ideal remuneration practices in respect of female workers.

At CMS, we are deeply committed to respect and all aspects of diversity and inclusion. We are therefore keen to publish early our Gender Pay Statistics required under section 78 of the Equality Act 2010. Not only have we reported the statistics that are required under law, we have also provided a breakdown of those statistics providing further detail and conclusions. In addition, while the data relates only to UK employees, the spirit of equality is one we are driving through our whole business – for partners as well as employees, and internationally as well as in the UK. Whilst our figures may well be in line with those of other international law firms, we are not complacent and accept that there is still work to be done. 

Using the basic calculations outlined in the Gender Pay Gap Regulations 2017, the good news is that on the fee earner side, apart from minimal pay gaps in our Bristol office, the overall picture at the various levels and offices shows no pay gap. The overall pay gap for the median hourly earnings of all UK employees is 32.8% and the mean hourly pay gap is 17.3%. These figures are heavily impacted by the disproportionate female to male ratio in the firm, particularly in business support teams, as well as the high numbers of part-time female workers. To counteract the part-time distortion, for the deeper dive into gender pay inequalities, full-time equivalent salaries, broken down by fee earner levels and business support grades were utilised to show the true picture of the CMS pay gap.

If we draw our attention to the quartile section, our results echo many professional services firms in that we have a large proportion of women in the lowest pay bands. On a more positive note, we also have more females in the higher pay bands, despite the fact these calculations were based on actual hourly rates as opposed to full-time equivalent.

The bonus pay gap picture (based on the requirements of the regulations) on the other hand is disappointing. These figures are based on all financial bonuses received in the 12 months preceding the snapshot date of 5 April 2017.  This is perhaps a result of more men successfully exceeding the ATR bonus threshold. As the firm-wide bonus applies to all employees present during the requisite financial year, we have a healthy proportion of male and females receiving bonuses as a general principle.

Interestingly, on the senior business support side, the existence of the discretionary profit-sharing bonus has given a more balanced picture of total reward in the London office, as annual salaries in isolation favour the male employees.

Our commitment is to work hard to improve these statistics. With that in mind, we are implementing an inclusion strategy that has embedded a number of initiatives within our firm that work together in a concerted effort to enhance the culture of our workplace. The strategy is robust and sustainable to deliver inclusion across all the different pillars of the firm, including gender diversity and equality of opportunity, and invests in the talent development and future of our firm.

Here are three examples of some of our initiatives where we will be closely monitoring progress:

  • Work allocation: Given the critical role that on-the-job experience plays, work allocation is one of the most important elements of the development of our people. We have a progressive and enlightened approach to work allocation that we are rolling out across our business.
  • Maternity and parental leave: We provide a generous and supportive package for mothers, fathers, partners and adopters including enhanced pay, greater flexibility and the ability to take extended leave. We also provide coaching support in the run-up to leave and in returning to work, and in monitoring performance we make specific allowance for the periods immediately before and after leave.
  • Recruitment: Our recruitment policy and practice focuses on broadening the size of the potential talent pool, identifying and embracing individuals with transferable skills, motivation and intellectual capacity.   We are founding members of PRIME, a profession-wide programme to provide fair access to quality work experience for young people from less privileged backgrounds, and have a bursary scheme which supports students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds to a career in law more accessible.