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Freshfields publishes UK pay gap data on gender, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (‘Freshfields’) has today published its 2020 UK pay gap report, which includes data on the firm’s gender, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation pay gaps.

Freshfields has published its gender pay gap since 2017, and on a voluntary basis, its ethnicity pay gap since 2018. This year for the first time it has included data on its disability and sexual orientation pay gaps, as part of its wider ongoing commitment to improving diversity and inclusion in the firm across all dimensions.

Freshfields’ mean overall gender pay gap for 2020 decreased to 54.5% (57.2% in 2019) and the median overall gender pay gap decreased to 16.8% (24.2% in 2019).

For partners, the mean gender pay gap dropped eight percentage points to 2.4% (10.4% in 2019) and the median gender pay gap moved to -6.7% (13.3% in 2019).

Across the firm’s employee population gender pay and bonus gaps improved across all measures. Notably, the mean pay gap dropped to -1.1% (3.8% in 2019) and the median bonus pay gap fell to 0% (23.1% in 2019).

In the UK, 21% of Freshfields’ partners and employees identified as BAME (Black, Asian or minority ethnic) in 2020. The overall ethnicity pay gap decreased, with a mean pay gap of 59.5% and a median pay gap of 12.8%. In March 2021, the firm announced a new target to double the number of Black associates in the firm by 2026, as part of its new five-year global diversity and inclusion commitments and targets.

Eight per cent of the UK firm identified as disabled, with a mean pay gap of 65.4% and a median pay gap of 8.9% for this group. Eight per cent of the UK firm identified as LGBT+, with a mean pay gap of 49.4% and a median pay gap of 19.3%.

Claire Wills, London Managing Partner at Freshfields, commented: “It is encouraging that we continue to reduce our gender and ethnicity pay gaps, however, as long as pay gaps remain we know there is more work to do. We remain committed to improving inclusion across the firm and our various initiatives, programmes and networks that champion diversity and inclusion all contribute towards closing the pay gaps and ensuring Freshfields is a place where everyone feels they belong. Our new diversity and inclusion commitments and targets will be an important marker of success over the coming years, helping us to drive real change and accelerate our progress.”

Olivia Balson, Director of the Freshfields Global Centre in Manchester, added: “We have reported disability and sexual orientation pay gap data for the first time this year as we firmly believe this transparency will promote dialogue and change. Even though there are limitations in the data, this wider reporting is a necessary step towards creating an inclusive and representative work environment where all our people feel confident and can excel.”

In addition to the recent launch of the five-year commitments and targets, Freshfields runs several initiatives to broaden inclusion at the firm, including: its Global Sponsorship Programme for aspiring women leaders; the appointment of strategic leads who support the delivery of our race and ethnicity strategy within their teams; employee-led networks such as the Black Affinity Network, the Mental Health Affinity Network, and the Freshfields Enabled Network, which focuses on disability inclusion; and the expansion of the firm’s reverse mentoring programme, which pairs junior colleagues from under-represented backgrounds with senior colleagues.


Notes for Editors

As there is currently no guidance on how to publish disability and sexual orientation data, the same criteria for gender and ethnicity pay gap reporting has been used.

About Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP is a global law firm with a long-standing track record of successfully supporting the world's leading national and multinational corporations, financial institutions and governments on ground-breaking and business-critical mandates. Our 2,800 plus lawyers deliver results worldwide through our own offices and alongside leading local firms. Our commitment, local and multi-national expertise and business know-how means our clients rely on us when it matters most.