In April 2018, amid furore about the gender pay gap and company reports on the issue, an Accountancy Age survey revealed a 21.5% gender pay gap in the accountancy profession (3.1% higher than the national average). It also revealed that the gap widens with progression and varies depending on career path; the gap in practice was only 19.2%, while the gap in industry was significantly higher at 24.4%.
But after that wake-up call, has anything changed? And are the Big Four taking steps to reduce their own very large gender pay gaps?
PwC: no more all-male shortlists
After the publication of its own gender pay gap report, which revealed that its pay gap (43.8%) was the worst among the Big Four, PwC declared a ban on all-male job shortlists at executive level from the beginning of June.
The company has also set itself a target of recruiting equal numbers of men and women in its recruitment drive, hoping this will ensure the number of women promoted to senior roles increases.
Of course, after earning itself no end of criticism in 2015 when a female temp employed as a PwC receptionist was sent home without pay for refusing to wear high heels, it needs to prove it really is the gender equality champion it claims to be (although the ‘two-to four inch heel’ code was not a PwC regulation but one laid down by the Portico recruitment agency that recruited the temp).
Deloitte: Gap changes shapes but remains significant
Deloitte published its statutory gender pay stats this week, and while its reported gender pay gap of 41% is still large, it’s an improvement on last year’s 43.2%. However, since it’s been required to include equity partners in its calculations, it’s rumoured that its median pay gap has risen slightly and there’s been a rise in the gender bonus gap from 50.9% last year to 52.3% by April 2018.
Deloitte’s recruitment record doesn’t seem as good as PwC’s. Only 43% of its staff are women, and women make up only 19% of its partners and 29% of its directors. However, the company says its working towards a goal of 40% of partners being female by the year 2030.
Emma Codd, managing partner for talent at the firm, said that comparing the firm’s results to last year’s gave “a mixed picture,” partially caused by the actions the company had taken to encourage more women into the business at entry level.
“This requires us to continue to take action not only to attract more women, including at entry level, but to ensure that we retain them and enable them to progress to our most senior positions in the firm.”
KPMG: “no tolerance”
KPMG has said it has a ‘no tolerance’ policy when it comes to all-male recruitment lists, but presently less than 20% of its partners are female.
The company has recognised the issues caused for both mothers and fathers whose career progression is interrupted by parenthood. They have introduced an initiative offering coaching for mothers and fathers before, during and after parental leave. The company’s deputy chair, Melanie Richards, has pointed out that it’s important not to alienate men by focusing attention too much on female staff, while working towards reducing the gender pay gap.
EY: Imbalance at the top
The company stole a march on its three competitors and gained good PR by releasing its gender pay gap figures early—before they were required by law and on International Women’s day. Its average gender pay gap was reported to be 38.1%. EY’s chairman Steve Varley, said at the time of publication that the gender pay gap legislation was “more than a compliance issue” for the firm and that it would help it “create a better gender and ethnic balance at our most senior levels.”
EY’s partners are also currently 80% men, but at graduate level things are more balanced, with just 58% men. The company’s goals are for at least 30% of its newly promoted partners to be female and for a better balance in its lower paid roles, many of which are currently more female dominated.
How does your company’s gender pay gap compare to those of the Big Four and how are you tackling it?