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Freshfields publishes 2023 UK pay gap report

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (‘Freshfields’) has today published its 2023 UK pay gap report, inclusive of data on gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, and socio-economic background, as part of the firm’s ongoing commitment to inclusion and transparency.

Freshfields has published its gender pay gap since 2017 and, on a voluntary basis, its ethnicity pay gap since 2018. For the fourth consecutive year it has also included data on its disability and sexual orientation pay gaps, and for the second consecutive year data on its socio-economic pay gaps, as part of evolving efforts to take a multifaceted approach.  

The report highlights active steps taken by the firm to, drive diversity and inclusion efforts and reduce any gaps, enhance firm policies and practices and evolve talent programmes .

Freshfields’ mean overall gender pay gap (including partners) for 2023 slightly increased to 53.5% (from 53.2% in 2022) and the median overall gender pay gap increased to 46.1% (14.8% in 2022). This year, the median gap changed in particular as a result of structural changes to business services which has changed the distribution of colleagues overall. When reviewing the median pay gap by role group, the gap is 0%. For employees the mean gender pay gap increased to 12.0% while the median increased to 27.0%. 

The overall ethnicity pay gap (including partners) increased compared to 2022, with a mean pay gap of 57.7% (from *60.3% in 2022), and a median pay gap of 26.2% (from *17.0% in 2022). The pay gap continues to be driven by the relatively small number of partners self-identifying as being from an ethnic minority and higher representation in more junior roles. For employees the mean ethnicity pay gap decreased to 7.3% while the median increased to 5.8%. Our ethnicity pay gap data comes solely from individuals who voluntarily choose to share their diversity data. The firm has been working to increase the response rate over the past few years, including 85% for 2023, and encourage self-reporting.

This is the fourth year that the firm has reported disability pay gaps for its employees and partners, and figures show a mean pay gap of 5.6%, from 5.8% the previous year, and a median pay gap of 32.3% for this group from 19.1%. Sexual orientation pay gap figures show a mean pay gap of 45.7% and a median pay gap of 45.6%.

The firm’s socio-economic background pay gap reporting analyses the pay gap between three groups of parental background: ‘professional’, ‘intermediate’ and ‘lower socio-economic’. The overall pattern of pay gaps that we observed last year remains, but there has been a slight increase in pay gaps. These changes are driven by the increased response rate and the distribution of individuals in each group as a result. Our pay gaps across the different dimensions are driven by the distribution of colleagues across different types of roles, and across different levels of seniority.

London Managing Partner Mark Sansom commented: “Our UK pay gap reporting is an important part of our diversity and inclusion strategy and provides the opportunity for us to reflect, review opportunities for development and transparently share our progress. We recognise that change takes time but our commitment to inclusion and equality is unwavering.”

Examples of action to drive change include:

  • Publishing our second report on our progress towards diversity and inclusion targets and commitments;
  • Recognition of our efforts to ensure equality and inclusion based on data and insights including Stonewall Global Employer – Gold award, The Times Top 50 Employers for Gender Equality, Mansfield Rule Certification Plus, Investing in Ethnicity Top 25 Listing and Top 75 listing in the Social Mobility Employer Index;
  • Enhanced our global Future Leaders Programme for ethnically diverse colleagues with strong representation from UK colleagues and partners;
  • Our Global Sponsorship Programme 7th cohort for women associates included coaching, training and sponsorship;
  • Expanded engagement in cross-firm mentoring programmes for UK colleagues including Mission Include, Mission Gender Equity and with the Valuable 500;
  • Continuing engagement for our Global Reverse Mentoring Programme from leaders and colleagues in the UK;
  • Extending benefits including our Calm app, health provision and a series of events focused on gender and health for all colleagues;
  • Award winning programmes focused on access to the profession including our Aspiring Professionals Programme and Stephen Lawrence Scholarship Scheme.

Notes to Editors

*Revised pay gap figures due to error in previous calculation

As there is currently no guidance on how to publish ethnicity, disability, LGBTQ+ and socio-economic background data, the same criteria for gender pay gap reporting have been used.