Osborne Clarke publishes its 2023 UK pay gap today with expanded data including social mobility and disability, alongside gender and ethnicity reporting this year.

The firm has published its employee, partner and combined gender pay and pushing for greater transparency, began reporting ethnicity pay gaps the following year.  Appreciating the need to develop data and insight into other underrepresented groups, it's also including social class and disability pay gaps reporting for the first time this year.

"We're proud of our continued commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion within our organisation. Transparently reporting and scrutinising these figures is an essential step and ensures we can take meaningful action towards closing these gaps not only within our own organisation, but it also helps to raise awareness across the legal sector and wider society," said Victoria Parry, Partner and Chair of Osborne Clarke's  Diversity Champions Forum.

Gender pay gap

The mean gender pay gap has fallen this year to 17.6%, the lowest figure since reporting began in 2017. There has also been improved female representation in the upper pay quartiles, and the Partner gender pay gap also reduced again to 10% due to female progression within the partnership, which is contributing to closing the partner pay gap.

The progress shows the Gender Action Plan, and wider diversity and inclusion initiatives, are having a positive effect on the recruitment, retention and progression of women at all levels of the firm.

Ethnicity pay gap

The mean ethnicity pay gap has fallen to just under 10%, the result of an increase in ethnic minority representation across the firm (up two percentage points to 13%), and most notably in the upper quartile. The median ethnicity pay gap has remained fairly static, because representation has also grown at the lower pay quartile.

Disability pay gap

Relative to overall representation across the employee population, those with a disability are marginally overrepresented in the lower and lower middle pay quartiles. The mean disability pay gap is 8.1% and the median is 12.1%. The legal practice groups are the main contributors to the disability pay gap – in business services the gaps are negative, favouring those with a disability.

The relatively small sample size (employees who identify as having a disability represent 6.4% of those who disclosed) means limited significance can be drawn from our analysis at this stage, but the firm will continue to monitor this pay gap and aim to grow disclosure and representation of disabled people at the firm.

Class* pay gap

Employees from working class backgrounds represent 57.7% of those who chose to disclose. They are overrepresented in the lower and lower-middle pay quartiles. The mean class pay gap is 19.2% and the median is 36.4%. these gaps are mainly driven by structural imbalances in legal services roles, and are almost entirely occurring at our London office where working class employees are more significantly underrepresented in higher paying roles.

"We're pleased to report we've made gradual progress towards our targets for female and ethnic minority representation in partnership. However we recognise there is still work to be done to achieve  lasting change. That's why we remain fully committed to supporting the dedicated work of our Diversity Champions, employee networks, and Responsible Business Team," said Conrad Davies, UK Managing Partner at Osborne Clarke.

The firm continues to work towards its targets to reduce its pay gaps by achieving 30% women and 6% ethnic minorities in partnership by 2025.  Additional 2022-2023 programmes that support these commitments include:

  • Refreshed Diversity and Inclusion strategy to set out five strategic principles;
  • Published our full Race Action Plan to accelerate progress to increase ethnic minority representation and progression;
  • Launched our Inclusion Allies programme to empower our people with the knowledge and skills they need to take meaningful action and drive an inclusive culture;
  • Hosted first cohort of students from the 10,000 Black Interns scheme, offering one a training contract;
  • Collaborated with clients on diversity and inclusion forums, focused on topics including neurodiversity, social diversity and gender identity; 
  • Ranked 19th in the 2023 Social Mobility Employer Index, a jump of seven places from previous ranking, in recognition of social diversity performance over the reporting year;
  • Launched a new workplace wellbeing strategy to tackle the work-related root causes of poor mental wellbeing; and
  • Winner of the Inclusion and Diversity category at the South West Business Leader Awards

*To inform the report's class pay gap, and given there isn't a standardised definition, the firm used comprehensive criteria asking questions about three social diversity markers and then compared the pay of those who have one of more of these characteristics, to those with none:

  • They were eligible for free school meals;
  • when they were aged 14 the highest income earner in their household was in a technical, craft, routine, semi-routine manual or service occupation; or was long-term unemployed; or

by the time they were 18 the highest level of qualification achieved by either parent or guardian was below degree level.

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