The UK law firm with higher median pay for women

Wright Hassall reduces pay gap in four years from more than 40% to -22%

Midlands law firm Wright Hassall has published a new gender pay gap report showing that women’s median hourly pay within the firm is 22% higher than men’s.

The Leamington-based firm said the result made it one of the only – if not the only – UK law firm with a negative pay gap.  

Wright Hassall, which employs 178 members of staff including 57 men and 121 women, said it has been actively focusing on reducing its gender pay gap since 2020 as part of its commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.

In the past four years the firm has reduced its median hourly pay gap from 40.3% to -22% and has also achieved gender equality in its senior leadership team and partner group. In the same time the firm reduced its mean hourly pay gap from 33.6% to 2.2%.  

Mark Shrimpton, chief people officer at Wright Hassall, said the firm had “been taking action to address our inequalities rather than just talking about them”.

“On this International Women’s Day, in the spirit of being open and transparent, we’ve voluntarily published our Gender Pay Gap Report,” he said.  

“We are delighted to announce that we have reduced our median pay gap to minus 22% and now have a 50/50 ratio of males and females in our most senior positions. We’ve achieved this by taking action, monitoring our decisions to make sure that they are fair for everyone, and focusing on creating a flexible workplace and offering equal opportunities for all colleagues.”

Measures taken by the firm included implementing a company-wide career structure, developing its hybrid working policies and introducing new bonus schemes.

“I believe that we are one of the only UK law firms – if not the only – which can say we have a negative gender pay gap, and I am proud that we are leading the way in this area,” Shrimpton said.  

“We are committed to maintaining our position in the future and we will continue to monitor and publish our gender pay gap information voluntarily.”

Wright Hassall’s negative gender pay gap stands in contrast to the UK legal sector as a whole, which had an average median pay gap of 22.7% in 2022/23 – more than the UK average of 14.3%.  

Research conducted by the Law Society of England and Wales into the gender pay gap at the largest 50 UK law firms showed their median pay gap was even higher than the average at 32.4%.

Progress toward gender pay equality remains stubbornly slow, with a report by the Next 100 Years project finding that 84% of women working in the UK legal profession didn’t expect to see true pay parity in their working lives.  

Two-thirds of respondents (62%) believed that senior management in their firms were not prioritising fixing the pay gap, despite efforts by law firms including hiring and promotion quotas and analysing their gender pay data in greater detail.

The pay gap is exacerbated by issues with retention, with the Law Society’s research noting that women – who make up 53% of practising solicitors but only 35% of partners – are held back by a range of factors including unfair work allocation, promotion structures that tend to favour the traditional career paths predominantly followed by men and challenging work-life balances. 

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