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AHMM says increased gender pay gap is down to women on maternity leave

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AHMM has insisted its widening gender pay gap can be blamed on the high numbers of women on maternity leave or sabbatical when the data was captured

Last week the Stirling Prize-winning practice revealed a median pay gap of 16.7 per cent for 2018, 4.4 per cent larger than its figures from 2017. The company is the only architectural practice to have reported an increased pay gap in its latest set of figures.

AHMM, which is the UK’s fourth largest practice in the AJ100 rankings, also confirmed an increasing gap between bonus payments, with women’s median bonus pay 22.5 per cent lower than men’s. In 2017, the gap was 20.5 per cent.

But AHMM said the gap had widened because the proportion of women in its upper pay bracket had dropped by almost 10 per cent.

It said a ‘significant number of women employees’ were on maternity leave or sabbatical when the data snapshot was taken on 4 April 2018. This was 18, of which half were in the upper pay bracket.

Under the government’s rules, employees who are receiving a reduced rate of pay – such as women on maternity leave - are excluded from the calculations. 

A spokesperson said: ‘We don’t believe, therefore, that the widening of our pay gap between the 2017 and 2018 snapshot dates represents an underlying trend.’

Among the other practices to have already reported their gender pay gaps are Foster + PartnersSheppard Robson and BDP, all of which posted slim improvements. 

Stride Treglown, which in 2017 had the largest gap (28.7 per cent), also narrowed its median pay gap to 22.8 per cent.

Allies and Morrison, which as a limited liability partnership (LLP) does not include partner pay, has revealed its gap shrank to 7 per cent, down from 10 per cent in 2017.

However with just a few days until the 4 April deadline, eight practices have yet to report.

In the statement, AHMM’s Peter Morris acknowledged its pay gap had ‘widened slightly in this second reporting year’.

He said that, while women and men at AHMM were paid equally for performing equivalent jobs, the company recognised that ‘this is only a part of the picture’. 

He added that, after the publication of last year’s figures, the employee-owned company had set up a Gender Pay Gap working group, overseen by a senior member of the practice who had taken on the role of gender equality champion.

While saying that actions to improve the pay gap would take time, he added: ‘We are confident and determined, that positive change can be achieved, both in our gender pay gap data and the pursuit of a more representative gender balance across the practice.’

The government has kept the gender pay gap reporting rules the same for 2019, despite calls from MPs to be ‘more ambitious’ and widen the exercise to include all companies above 50 employees. 

Last year practices set up as limited liability partnerships (LLPs) – including Hawkins\Brown, Sheppard Robson, Allies and Morrison and TP Bennett – confirmed they were not required to include partners’ earnings as they do not count as employees.

The AJ will be keeping track of the profession’s gender pay gap – click here to see how practices compare

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Readers' comments (1)

  • It is hard to take seriously statistics which include directors but exclude partners, and which pretend that people on maternity or sabbatical leave are no longer employees. The only thing that matters is whether people with roughly the same skills, experience and qualification get roughly the same sort of reward. This doesn't interest the Department of Guesswork or the usual headbangers.

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