01 October 2019

How diversity counts

DWF sets ambitious diversity targets while Allen & Overy gender pay figures falter, though weighted by London.

By Dr David Cowan


DWF is the latest to publish ambitious diversity targets, setting new targets to increase the diversity within its senior leadership positions over the next three years.The targets are focused on ensuring that a diverse group of people have access to senior management roles within the business. Meanwhile, Allen & Overy has admitted the total gender pay gap has crept up since 2018, suggesting there has been little effect on efforts to reduce its gender pay gap.

“Further than ever”

DWF meets the voluntary target of having at least 33 percent of women on its plc board as set out in the Hampton-Alexander Review in respect of gender balance and aims to at least maintain its current gender diversity, having no fewer than three women on the Board. DWF is targeting female representation on its executive board to be at least 33 percent by 2022 (an increase from 27 percent currently) and for women to hold at least 30 percent of other senior leadership positions (an increase from 27 percent currently). The business also targets to achieve at least 10 percent BAME representation across senior leadership positions, inclusive of the board membership by 2022 and the Board plans to initiate BAME pay gap reporting by the end of 2020. Andrew Leaitherland, group ceo at DWF, said: “At DWF we share a common ambition with other progressive businesses to improve diversity on our main board, executive board and across our wider senior leadership. We want these targets to take us further than ever before.” Mr Leaitherland, explained “The goals are based on our learnings over the past few years and are founded in our belief that inclusion, diversity and equality are fundamental to driving our future success and demonstrate the commitment of our leadership to effect change, making DWF truly open to all.” Seema Bains, partner and head of the diversity & inclusion leadership group at DWF, said “Becoming diverse rarely happens by accident. Real diversity and inclusion require change and commitment. We are serious about recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce as well as ensuring our colleagues have access to opportunities to grow and progress.” To achieve the targets, DWF has already kicked off various activities to accomplish them.

Defining "real progress"

Figures released by Allen & Overy reveal the combined gender pay gap for UK partners and employees is now 61.5 percent, up from 61.2 percent last year. The pay gap has also increased slightly, as pay among UK senior lawyers rose from 2.6 percent last year to 3 percent this year, and among lawyers from 0.9 percent to 4.4 percent. The firm’s partners, made up of 80 percent men, had a stabilized rate of 15.9 percent. In London, the median and mean pay gaps improved this year and the 'key findings' summary in the firm’s report suggests on this basis the pay gap has improved, “Having significantly more men in our partnership, and at the more senior levels, has the effect of widening the gender pay gap. This also applies to the 16.8 percent gap for senior professional staff - although this is down from 23.8 percent in 2018.” The report explains that achieving “real progress” means improving the gender balance at the most senior levels. Allen & Overy aims to have at least 30 percent women in the partnership selection process each year and wants at least 30 percent of its global partners to be women. On ethnic diversity, the report states 14.3 percent of employees identify as BAME and the overall ethnicity pay gap is 23.1 percent, up from 21.6 percent last year. Allen & Overy has also announced the closure of its flexible working hub in Vauxhall, southwest of central London. The pilot scheme had been designed to reduce employee commute times, but the firm stated it did not attract enough interest.

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