Gender Pay Gap Report

For the first time, companies with over 250 employees are required to report on their UK gender pay gap under the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap) Regulations 2016 ("the Regulations") this year.

Our business context - about Gowling WLG

We have more than 1,400 legal professionals working around the world. Our offices span 18 cities in Canada, the UK, Continental Europe, Asia and the Middle East. There's strength in our global presence - we embrace our differing cultures and work together as one team. We are repeatedly recognised as one of the UK's top employers, committed to diversity, inclusion and innovation. We've appeared in The Great Place to Work® Institute's Best Workplaces list for 17 consecutive years.

Gender Pay Gap - summary of our approach to gender diversity and equal pay

  • We are confident that females and males are paid equally for equivalent jobs and performance.
  • We actively review and moderate annual salary and bonus decisions and are confident that our pay practices are gender neutral and free from any discriminatory practices.
  • We have a comprehensive Diversity & Inclusion programme, including specific initiatives to promote equal opportunity for females and males, including at the most senior levels of our business and at partnership level.
  • Reporting under the Regulations is based on an overall average across all roles and seniorities (excluding Partners). Within the Regulations, our gender salary gap is 25% (both mean and median) and our gender bonus gap is 64% mean, 49% median.
  • In addition, we calculate and report to the Board an 'adjusted gender pay gap' which focuses on any female/male differences within equivalent roles, grades and locations. This adjusted pay gap for our lawyers in different roles varies on average between -8% to 6%.

Gender Pay Gap - in more detail

The gender pay gap differs from equal pay as it is about averages across all roles, rather than assessing levels of pay between females and males in the same equivalent roles. Reporting under the Regulations takes into account the average position across all jobs across both our UK offices (approximately 950 people excluding Partners). Around a third of our employees are based in London (with London market aligned salaries). The other two thirds are based in our Birmingham office.

Difference between male and female employees

Proportion of males and females in each pay quartile.

Proportion of employees awarded a bonus for performance year 2015/16, paid in the 12 months to 5 April 2017

As we outlined earlier, we are confident that female and male employees are paid equally for doing equivalent jobs across the firm with equal performance.

Understanding our pay gap

The majority of our gender pay gap is a direct result of the structure of our workforce.

When we group equivalent roles together, our average salaries are comparable for females and males based on the role content and performance. However, the shape of our business is such that we have proportionately more females in our Business Services, Secretarial and Legal Support roles (which have lower average hourly rates) than in our lawyer population.

Average hourly rate and headcount for each role

Female and male trainees are paid the same salary in each location. The difference above is due to the spread of each gender across the two locations.

Therefore, our analysis of our gender pay gap shows it is driven by the fact that we have recruited more females than males into our Business Services, Secretarial and Legal Support roles, which have a lower hourly rate, leading to the overall gender pay gap.

Understanding our bonus gap

The structure of our workforce and the bonus schemes in place is also influencing our bonus gap, which sits at 64% mean and 49% median.

We are confident that females and males have an equal opportunity to participate in and earn a bonus. We make adjustments to bonus targets for those on family related leave so there is equal opportunity to achieve a bonus around these life events. The shape of our workforce drives our mean and median bonus gap, in the same way it does our gender pay gap.

Our gap is affected by two main factors:

  1. We have three types of bonus scheme - with different proportions of female/male participating:
    • Our Firmwide Bonus Scheme applies to the majority of Business Services, Secretarial and Legal Support roles, and is a profit share based bonus which is a fixed percentage of annual profit.
    • Our Director Bonus Scheme and Fee Earner Bonus Scheme both pay out significantly higher levels of bonus based on performance against objectives and (for Directors) a profit-related element.
    • Those eligible within each of the bonus schemes are treated equally whether female or male. However, there is a much higher proportion of females participating in the Firmwide Bonus Scheme (which has lower payments) than in our Director Bonus Scheme and Fee Earner Bonus Scheme. As a result, our overall average (mean and median) position is lower for females than males.

      Lowest bonus median

  2. The Regulations require us to adopt the pro-rated bonus (rather than full time equivalent figures) for employees who work reduced hours. 93% of our people who choose to work reduced hours are female. At Gowling WLG we offer all our employees the option to work reduced hours to suit their lifestyle, but the female/male take-up does impact our mean bonus gap under the Regulations. This is because those working reduced hours receive a pro-rated bonus reduced to reflect their contractual hours.

How are we responding to the gender pay gap

We are confident we do not have an equal pay issue. However, we are continuing to take steps to ensure that everyone within the firm has the same career opportunities, allowing them to access salary and bonus progression as they develop and advance through the firm.

  • In 2016, the firm committed to gender targets of 30% women in the partnership by 2026. We have introduced a number of initiatives including unconscious bias training, maternity coaching and mentoring to help us reach that goal as well as adopting agile working practices for everyone to recognise and support our diverse population.
  • Our More Women network is driving the practices we need to achieve gender equality at the top of our firm. It provides internal and external networking events, and has helped shape our Directors' mentoring programme.
  • Our Family Matters network supports working parents and anyone with caring responsibilities. It helps them achieve quality of life at home and at work.
  • Each strand of our diversity programme has a dedicated board sponsor and our board collectively review our diversity performance and strategy on a half yearly basis.
  • Through social mobility, we aim to fill our teams with the best and brightest people from all walks of life. We run a programme supporting those from deprived backgrounds, offering work placements, mentoring and bursaries. Our award-winning Legal Social Mobility Programme gives students work experience in our firm and our clients' organisations.

Due to the structural shape and demographics of Gowling WLG (in common with many legal and professional service firms), it will be challenging to reduce our gender pay gap reported under the Regulations dramatically in the foreseeable future. However, we remain committed to diversity and inclusion in all forms, and continue to be committed to paying equal pay for equal roles and performance.

I confirm that the data reported above is accurate.


David Fennel Signature

David Fennell
Chief Executive Officer and designated member
Gowling WLG (UK) LLP