First gender pay reporting figures embarrass top six


First gender pay reporting figures embarrass top six


Those in the higher echelons of the accountancy profession have probably been dreading the publication of figures which would finally prove whether women in our industry get as bad a deal as everyone is always imagined.

At a headline level, according to reports on the BBC website more than 10,000 companies with over 250 employees published data, with more than 1,000 firms reporting on the last day.

With a degree of irony, the deadline for producing Gender Pay Reporting data was a single day before the end of the tax year, a stressful enough time for every practice.

The median pay gap among those companies was 9.7%, with the figures indicating that 78% of firms pay men more than women on average, while 14% pay women more. The remaining 8% really are equal opportunity employers.

In addition, it is stated that the national average pay gap between men and women is 18.4%. After so much news coverage and given empirical evidence from almost every organisation that one comes across, it goes without saying which of the two genders is the winner in this rather distasteful competition.

All of this headline data gives a good benchmark against which to measure the performance of the leading players in each industry, including the accountancy profession.

The table below makes it clear that the larger firms of accountants have a long way to go before they reach a level that the public would regard as acceptable.


Average pay gap

Higher paid jobs

Lower paid jobs

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP




PricewaterhouseCoopers Services Limited




Deloitte LLP




Deloitte MCS Limited




Ernst & Young Services Limited




KPMG UK Limited




Grant Thornton Services LLP




Grant Thornton UK LLP




Grant Thornton Business Services




BDO Services Limited




Having reviewed this information, it is pleasing to be able to congratulate the best performers. Deloitte tops the accountancy list with a gender pay gap of little over 12%, comfortably beating the national average, although when it comes to having more women in higher-paid jobs PwC rates better, albeit still at less than 38%.

On the other side of the coin, based on the published data if you are a woman it might not be a good idea to send off a CV to Grant Thornton at present, as the fifth largest firm in the country scores unfavourably on every measure. This comes as somewhat of a surprise, given that the organisation is currently run by a woman, high-profile CEO Sacha Romanovitch.

Even allowing for the relatively good performance by Deloitte and PwC, none of this will make comfortable reading for any of the practices surveyed above and, without trawling through the figures for the next firms down on the list, very few are likely to come out looking much more generous to their female workers.

In some cases, it is not immediately clear exactly how firms split their workforces but it seems reasonable to work on the basis that service companies employ the vast majority of workers, while associated LLPs will probably have small numbers of administrative staff and, in a number of cases, possibly some or all partners.

There is also a lack of clarity about whether the remuneration of equity partners is included in any of the figures produced. The initial assumption based on the requirements of the legislation must be that, since equity partners receive profit shares rather than salaries, they will fall outside the remit of this exercise. If that is the case, then real gender pay gaps are almost certainly very much higher than those shown, since the imbalance of men and women at equity partner level in the profession is far higher even than that between the genders amongst the generality of employees and salaried partners.

To muddy the waters a little further, according to a statement on the firm’s website, PwC does include (equity) partners within its gender pay gap statistics. Although the figures do not quite tally with those above, the country’s biggest firm claims to have a mean gender pay gap of 43.8% and the median gap of 18.7%. Ethnic minorities are better treated than women at the firm with a mean gap of 35.9% and a median of 11.7%. Just to add to the confusion, PwC also states that using the government’s methodology its mean gender pay gap is 13.7% and mean bonus gap 37.5%.

A random selection of mid-tier firms suggests that PKF Cooper Parry is a firm that is bucking trends. The average woman at the firm is only paid 3.5% less than the average man, while women occupy 48.2% of higher paid jobs at PKF Cooper Parry Group Limited. Once again, is unclear whether equity partners are included and what impact those statistics might have.

Now that approximately half of the workforce is fully armed with the information to prove that women in the upper echelons of the accounting profession are hard done by, the powers that be might very reasonably expect a clamour from female employees for promotions and pay rises in coming months.

For once, the message may not actually fall on deaf ears since, given the anticipated desire of those firms that are obliged to publish figures to improve from year-to-year, it would not come as too much of a surprise to see some subtle changes in recruitment, pay and promotion policies in those firms over the next few years.


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