Burges Salmon has a 15% gender pay gap, down 7% since 2018 (these are the mean figures). Our gender pay gap exists because of the larger proportion of women in our lower pay quartiles, such as our client support and administrative roles. These roles are competitively paid compared to the market and we ensure equal pay for men and women in the same roles. However, because they are predominantly filled by women it affects the firm-wide pay averages and produces our gender pay gap.
So what can you do about a pay gap like this? Fundamentally two things make a difference. Firstly, supporting people in client support and administrative roles to gain experience and transition into other typically higher paid business services specialisms (if they wish to) – specialisms such as Operations, HR, Marketing or Finance. Secondly, encouraging gender balance in Client Support and Administrative teams by de-gendering the roles.
The case studies below provide insight into how these two approaches have worked for us. We will continue working to reduce our pay gaps year on year and part of this will be continuing to identify structural methods through which we can make improvements and drive change.
Case study: Transitioning into specialisms
We regularly facilitate internal transfers and secondments from our Client Support teams to work on projects in business professional departments. In many cases these transfers have resulted in permanent career progression out of the legal teams and up into business services specialisms. So what is the impact of this work? Of the 43 people promoted in 2022 across business professional and administrative roles at Burges Salmon, 90% were women. 50% of our business services Chiefs and 62% of our Heads Of business service teams are women.
Chloe Parfitt started her career at Burges Salmon in a client support role before going on a development journey to her current role as the firm’s Digital Learning Manager. Speaking about her career evolution she says:
“‘I joined Burges Salmon in my late teens as a Secretary, and after a few years I decided that I wanted a change and wanted to go into the technology side of things, that’s when I moved across into IT to become an IT Trainer. This, was a great opportunity to stretch my skills and advance my career to a more specialist role around systems and technology. I have now been a Manager in the Learning Technology team for eight years, managing a team of six. Burges Salmon has supported my development throughout completing a Post Graduate course in Psychology of Organisational Development and Change Management as well as Online Digital Learning and personal development courses.'”
Kerry Phillips joined the firm as a Legal Secretary and now works in our People advisory function as a Business Partner. On her progression she says:
“I have felt very supported by Burges Salmon throughout my career, and have worked hard to continue my professional development. My annual review conversations are focused on looking ahead at both short and longer term objectives, which has really helped shape and support my career progression. I have been supported through ‘on the job’ development and through professional studies and I am continuing on that journey this year, with further study through the CIPD.”
Case study: De-gendering the roles
Overcoming occupational segregation was something we knew we needed to tackle for the legal sector’s Secretary role. Traditionally this role has been female dominated and opportunities for career progression were limited. A few years ago we undertook a significant project to dismantle this role and create a suite of new roles that were focused around technical skills and specialisms, with consultation from the existing role owners and line managers. The new roles implemented include Legal Team PA, Legal Team Assistant, Legal Team Administrator and Document Technicians/Specialists. Through this redefinition we have seen a significant increase in the diversity of applicants for these roles – including male applicants who did not typically apply.
Overcoming occupational segregation was something we knew we needed to tackle