Virgin Money Boss Outraged by Firms Adjusting Gender Pay Data

Jayne-Anne Gadhia, chief executive officer of Virgin Money. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

• Firms ‘try to avoid reporting the truth’ by excluding partners

• Less than 1,300 of 9,000 larger cos. have revealed pay gaps

Virgin Money boss Jayne-Anne Ghadia said it’s “outrageous” that some law and accountancy firms exclude their highest-paid partners when disclosing gender imbalances in staff pay.

Companies including law firm Linklaters LLP and accountants EY have revealed gender pay gaps that are markedly lower than the handful of banks to have reported data. But that’s partly because the firms class their top-earning partners as owners rather than employees, allowing them to be kept out of the figures.

Jayne-Anne Gadhia. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

“The organizations I’m most disappointed by are the professional-service firms, such as the accountancy and legal firms, who are leaving partners out,” said Ghadia, chief executive officer of the finance company and a leading voice on equal pay. Two years ago, she led a government review on women in finance. “It’s outrageous if people try to avoid reporting the truth. We should call them out for it very loudly.”

Linklaters and Pinsent Masons LLP reported gender pay gaps of 23 percent and 22 percent, respectively, while EY said female employees earn an average of 20 percent less than their male colleagues. All three excluded the highest-earning partners from their numbers.

Partnerships are a different reward model to that of salaried employees and can’t be meaningfully compared, said Linklaters spokesman Tom Gilbert. He said that a large number of the firm’s senior partners are women.

Legally Obliged

Companies with more than 250 U.K. employees are legally obliged to disclose their gender pay gaps by April 4. As of Tuesday, fewer than 1,300 of some 9,000 firms have provided the information.

“The regulations do not address the substantive issues,” Pinsent Masons spokeswoman Emily Walden said when asked why the firm’s pay gap data don’t include partners. “We know there is a gap at the senior level, and are focusing our resources on fixing that.”

To read about gender pay gaps at banks, click here

EY said it’s committed to “transparency” in its six-page pay report, while failing to mention that partners’ remuneration isn’t included in its pay gap figures. A spokesman for the firm declined to comment.

Virgin Money Holdings (UK) Plc still has a way to go to narrow its own gender pay gap, which is about 33 percent, Ghadia conceded. The company reduced the gap substantially last year, she said.