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Diversity in law: How the industry is shaping up

24 / 11 / 2015
Diversity in law: How the industry is shaping upWe like to believe that we live in an equal society, with no glass ceilings or lack of opportunities for any group or individual.

However, when it comes to the gender divide, this still isn't the case. This fact was highlighted earlier in the month by the Fawcett Society, which once again flagged up Equal Pay Day (this year's fell on November 9th) – that is, the day women effectively start working for free for the remainder of the year as a result of the pay gap.

Across the UK as a whole, Office for National Statistics data shows that the difference in pay between men and women working full time now stands at 14.2 per cent. At the current rate of progress, the Fawcett Society predicts it will take more than half a century for the gap to be completely closed.

Of course, the situation varies markedly from one sector to another. Our Compensation and Market Trends Interim Report 2015 throws up some interesting statistics regarding the gender divide in the legal sector.

Differing views on career progression

We spoke to lawyers who have changed jobs in the past year, asking them what had been the biggest motivator behind the decision. 

Some 57 per cent cited career development as the main driver. However, men (65 per cent) were far more likely than women (45 per cent) to name career development as their main motivating factor in a change of employer.

There was also a difference in the proportion of men and women changing jobs. Some 34 per cent of men moved to a new organisation in 2015, compared to 28 per cent of women.

Who saw the biggest increases in pay?

As the Fawcett Society's study indicates, men earn higher base salaries than women in the legal sector.

The average salary for men in the legal profession stands at £109,865, against £97,312 for women – a difference of more than ten per cent. Perhaps unsurprisingly, men (63 per cent) were more likely to be satisfied with their remuneration than women (47 per cent).

However, our research also found that women actually fared better than men in terms of earning pay rises in 2015.

There was no difference between the average pay rise enjoyed by men and women who stayed with the same employer. But among people who changed job, women achieved higher average increases (16 per cent) than their male counterparts (14 per cent).

Experience and managerial responsibility

Our study highlighted slight differences in the level of experience between men and women, and also in the proportion of men and women in managerial roles.

On average, female lawyers working in-house have 10.3 years of experience, compared to 11.5 years for men. Furthermore, 54 per cent of men surveyed for our report had management responsibility, against 43 per cent of women.

Among respondents who were already in management positions, men were most likely to be in commerce, while women were more often in financial services.

Who is most likely to work flexibly?

The proportion of employers offering the opportunity for flexible working decreased between 2014 and 2015, from 61 per cent to 55 per cent.

Women were more likely to work flexibly than men, as were those in managerial positions.

Our 2015 Mid-Year Report combines a review of the prevailing conditions in the in-house legal recruitment market with the results of a comprehensive compensation survey of lawyers registered with Barclay Simpson.ADNFCR-1684-ID-801806453-ADNFCR