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Gender Pay Gap 2019: BDP and Sheppard Robson report figures

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New figures published by AJ100 big-hitters BDP and Sheppard Robson reveal the firms’ gender pay gaps have slightly narrowed since last year

BDP – which last year had the second widest pay gap of all UK practices – has closed the difference between the median hourly wage of men and women staff by 5.3 per cent.

The practice, the second-largest employer of architects in the UK, now has a pay gap of 20.2 per cent, down from 25.5 per cent in 2017. 

In a statement accompanying its figures, BDP chief executive John McManus said that, as one of the largest employers of female architects, the firm ‘particularly recognised’ that its pay gap needed to improve. 

Meanwhile Sheppard Robson, which as a limited liability partnerships does not have to include partner pay in its calculations, has also narrowed its pay gap, down to 10 per cent from 10.9 per cent in 2018.

Partner Andrew German said: ’Like most of the industry, we are uncomfortable with the results across the built environment and are committed to continually make the best conditions for every one of our team to thrive.’

German said in 2018 an ‘unprecedented number’ of female staff had joined the firm post-graduation. ’Whilst on paper this does not help the reporting or figures, it does bode well for the medium term strategy and the balance in our practice moving forward.’

Companies with more than 250 UK workers are required to publish annual pay gap figures as part of government rules that came into force in 2017.

Last year’s inaugural exercise revealed that in the architecture sector the average pay gap taken from the 11 practices big enough to qualify was 16.3 per cent. 

Sheppard Robson reported a rise in the number of women receiving bonus payments, up from 39.7 per cent in 2017 to 46.4 per cent in 2018. 

The proportion of men at Sheppard Robson receiving bonus payments also rose, to 55.5 per cent, up from 46.3 per cent in 2017. The difference between bonus pay at the firm has also shrunk. In 2017, women’s median bonus pay was 25 per cent lower than men’s, but this has now shrunk to 11.1 per cent.

At BDP, the percentage of women receiving bonuses has also risen, from 77.2 per cent last year to 79.4 per cent ,but still comes in below the percentage of men receiving payments (84.3 per cent).

Women’s bonus pay at BDP is still 28 per cent lower than men’s, only a 0.5 per cent improvement on last year’s numbers.

BDP’s McManus added: ’Our gender pay gap reflects the simple fact that at BDP there are more men at senior level than women. This is something we are committed to changing and we aim to accelerate our understanding of those issues that impede the progress of women in practice.’

Our gender pay gap reflects the simple fact that at BDP there are more men at senior level than women

He added that the firm had put in place an action plan to improve its pay gap, including training in equal opportunities and unconscious bias awareness and enhancements to its flexible working policy.

The only other firm to report its 2018 figures so far this year is Foster + Partners, which last week published a 9.8 per cent disparity in median pay, a slight improvement on last year.

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

The government’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy select committee published a report in August that recommended including company partners’ pay in gender pay gap reporting, saying its exclusion ’makes a nonsense’ of efforts to understand the scale of the pay gap.

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

At a glance 

Hourly median pay gap in 2018

  • BDP 20.2 per cent  (2017: 25.5 per cent)
  • Sheppard Robson 9.8 per cent (2017: 10.9 per cent)

Who received bonuses in 2018

  • Sheppard Robson 46.4 per cent of women and 55.5 per cent of men (2017: 39.7 per cent of women and 46.3 per cent of men)
  • BDP 79.4 per cent of women and 84.3 per cent of men (2017: 77.2 per cent of women and 81.2 per cent of men)
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