PwC use gender pay release to court new talent

26 July 2017 5 min. read

PwC’s pay gap is shrinking in the UK, however women’s bonuses continue to lag behind those of their male counterparts. Figures released by the firm show a 1.3% decrease in the gap between male and female pay, as the consultancy competes with other professional service groups to attract new graduate talent.

In the midst of graduation season at higher education institutions across the UK and the world, global consulting firms are currently focused on ways to attract thousands of young people coming out of university. In the UK, 25 professional service firms were recently ranked in the Guardian 300 list of most desirable graduate employers, and this fierce contest of has seen PwC attempt to get the drop on its rivals by releasing its gender pay numbers, before Big Four competitors Deloitte, KPMG and EY, as well as almost a year ahead of the 2018 government reporting deadline. PwC has subsequently become the largest private company to do so at time of writing.

PwC, which employs more than 19,000 people in the UK, confirmed on Thursday women at the firm earn on average 13.7% less than men. While the company contend that this figure is on a downward incline from 15% last year – thanks to a wider inclusion agenda which has seen the firm recognised as a Times Top 50 employer for women – PwC also face a staggering deficit in gendered bonuses, which sees men take home a huge 37.5% more in bonuses than female staff.

When adjusted for job level, the gender pay gap shrinks to 2.9%, however the pay gap numbers also expose how women remain clustered at the bottom of the corporate ladder at PwC. The company is currently trying to increase their number of women breaking the glass ceiling through so-called returnships, for women coming back from an extended break, as well as via mentoring programs and by instituting targets for women in senior leadership, however only 18% of partners are presently female, below the average level found by a recent Grant Thornton survey, which estimated around 25% of all senior leadership in businesses went to women.

PwC use gender pay release to court new talent

Laura Hinton, Head of People at PwC, said, “Publicly reporting our gender pay gap since 2014 has allowed us to understand the imbalances in our business and to do something about it, and it is encouraging to see that our gender pay gap is narrowing.”

Hinton also stated that along with the targets to employ more women in senior roles, PwC remained committed to tackling unconscious bias in the workplace too. “We are confident that we pay our men and women equally for doing equivalent jobs across our business, but our gender pay gap does show us that we have more men in senior positions,” she concluded.

Work to do

PwC's own research found that despite progress in other areas, female workers remain disadvantaged, with wage disparity in the UK standing at an estimated £85 billion in lost wages per year. Individual women were deprived an average of £6,100 per year by gendered salaries, and the firm predicted that it could take up to 24 years to close the gap in the UK. The Financial services is the sector with the largest gender pay gap at 34% while the consultancy’s ‘Women in Work Index’ also revealed a 23% disparity in the professional services industry itself.

Rival Deloitte has not presently reported its own figures to the government, but broad indications are that their rate is also on the decrease, with the firm stating in 2016 that its gender pay gap stood at 16.8%, down 1% from the previous year. However, when adjusting the figures according to similar job levels, the pay gap actually increased at the firm by 0.3% from the 2015 number of 1.5%.

EY meanwhile has not reported any gender pay gap numbers in the UK at this time, however a spokesman at the firm did announce plans to publish them earlier than mandated.

While all companies continue to compete for talent among graduates, for whom wage parity is perceived as a key draw toward prospective employers, the big consultants are among the largest private-sector employers in the world, with a particularly high projected 43% of INSEAD graduates, a key European business school, joining management consulting firms. Each hires hiring thousands of graduates each year and battling to distinguish themselves from each other. In a ranking released this week by Universum measuring the most attractive employers among global college graduates, the firms came in fourth (EY), fifth (PwC) and sixth (Deloitte) among the most-attractive employers among global college graduates – behind top global companies Google, Goldman Sachs and Apple.

"The students are looking for fair compensation, clear direction and transparency," said Jonna Sjovall, managing director for the Americas at Universum.