Reed Smith goes beyond pay gap reporting requirements with details of partner earnings

Reed Smith has published details of its UK gender pay gap, becoming one of the first firms to include partner figures in its reporting.

The US firm’s report reveals that while male partners are paid on average just 0.83% more than their female counterparts, female UK partners received on average 21.5% less in bonuses.

Law firms are not required to include partners in their gender pay gap reporting, but Reed Smith said it had decided it was important to look into the pay gap at partner level as “the firm’s commitment to gender equality applies to all levels of seniority within the firm”.

The report does not state what proportion of male and female partners took home a bonus, but specifies that it has a 77% male UK partnership.

Notably, the firm states that the average hourly rate of pay for female equity partners is actually higher than that of male equity partners, although no specific details are provided.

The firm’s overall pay gap for all UK employees is 14.8% in favour of men, with male staff on average receiving 27.1% more in bonuses, although the report states that 5% more female employees took home a bonus during the year – 76.9% compared to 71.9% of men.

Business services, fee earner, secretarial support and associate roles at the firm are all occupied by more women than men. Fifty-nine percent of associates at the firm are women, while 56% of both fee earning and business services roles are held by female employees, and 100% of secretaries at the firm are women.

However, women hold 50% of the firm’s senior management positions.

The report states: “Our figures tell us that women are reaching partnership and within that, equity partnership, and that those reaching these positions are being fairly rewarded without reference to gender.

“We have seen improvement over the past five years, but we will not rest until the gender pay gap is zero.”

Reed Smith’s report comes two weeks before the 4 April reporting deadline for all UK organisations employing more than 250 people, a threshold the US firm passes due to its significant London presence.

Fellow US firm White & Case also recently published its gender pay gap report, revealing that UK male employees are paid on average 24% more than women. Forty-six percent of male staff received a bonus, compared to 44% of women, with average bonus pay 45% in favour of men.

As with almost all other law firms, White & Case argued that the gender pay gap is driven by the fact that secretarial staff are “almost exclusively” female, while women are underrepresented in senior roles, an issue the firm said it has been “working to address for many years” with initiatives such as coaching, mentoring and unconscious bias training.