Photo: Halfpoint/Shutterstock.com

Ashurst and Hogan Lovells are reviewing policies designed to change attitudes and aid women’s success in the workplace following the release of their latest gender pay gap figures.

Ashurst is reviewing its U.K. shared parental leave and global maternity policies, aimed at increasing the number of men taking part in the U.K. offering and to have a more integrated global maternity program.

Hogan Lovells is examining the transition arrangements for those returning from parental leave and is considering the potential impact of work allocation.

At Ashurst, only half the men who have taken paternity leave have also engaged in the firm’s shared parental leave program.

Ashurst head of HR for EMEA and U.S., Claire Townshend, told Legal Week the firm wants to “prompt an increase” in those taking part in the program, and address any concerns people may have about doing so.

“Wider research has shown that men feel if they take part it may impact on their career prospects,” she said. “We want it to be normalized in the future and need to engage more with our people to encourage that.”

The firm is also reviewing its global maternity policy, and aims to offer a more standardized approach across its international offices.

“The firm operates across lots of different countries and areas, where there are many different statutory requirements and policies in practice,” Townshend said. “We think there is a minimum maternity leave period that we should be offering everywhere globally—not everywhere can be exactly the same of course, but we want to improve maternity leave policies where we can.”

She added one particular area of focus for an improved offering is in the firm’s Asian offices.

Following discussion and with the approval of Ashurst’s executive team, the firm hopes to implement changes to the policies by the first quarter of next year.

Townshend said that gender pay gap reporting has helped move the firm’s conversations forward.

“Gender pay gap reporting has been a tool for great conversations internally—in the legal sector with a higher proportion of partners being male, having a conversation in the public domain is great. As we try to drive this agenda of ensuring equality it’s very helpful.”

Ashurst’s gender pay gap figures, released April 4, showed a mean partner gender pay gap of 15.7 percent last year. It was the first time the firm has split out these figures.

Its mean gender pay gap for legal employees improved on the previous year, dropping to 10 percent in 2018 from 16.4 percent and the mean bonus pay gap also shrank, to 42.1 percent from 62.6 percent.

Hogan Lovells states within its gender pay gap report that it is currently undertaking a review of the “transition arrangements for returnees, as well as considering the potential impact of work allocation.”

While the firm declined to give further details, one female partner at the firm said: “It’s about communication and understanding what the pressure points are. Lots of our people have flexed their hours to fit around childcare and we have to bear that in mine. Little things can help—like avoiding regular calls that clash with nursery pick-ups, for example.”

She added that “Flexibility is a two way thing—you need the lawyer to be prepared to be flexible as well—and a lot of that comes down to having a proper, open conversation about what will work.”

Last year, Hogan Lovells paid its female partners more than men on average for the second year running. But when partner figures were combined with employee numbers, the gender pay gap was 12.3 percent in favor of men and the median gap was 27.3 percent.

The firm was one of few to expand its reporting to include ethnicity figures. The mean ethnicity pay gap for combined employees and partners was 46.3 percent with a median gap of 33.2 percent. For partners, the mean ethnicity pay gap was 12.8 percent.