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Measuring the Gender Pay Gap

A gender pay gap is the difference in the average paid to an organisation’s male and female employees. It does not consider the nature of an employee’s work or their seniority within an organisation.

It’s also not the same as an equal pay comparison, which would compare the pay awarded to male employees and female employees doing the same, similar, or equivalent work. For example, an organisation paying men and women equally at each level of seniority can still have a gender pay gap, if there are fewer women working at higher levels.


How are the median and mean gaps calculated?

We have calculated the median and mean gaps according to the gender pay gap reporting regulations. This means we’ve taken a snapshot of pay data for more than 550 relevant employees on 5 April 2023, then cross referenced this against whether individuals define themselves as male or female.

To calculate the median gap we hypothetically line up all our male employees in one line, and our female employees in another. The median gender pay gap is the difference in pay between the female employee in the centre of the line and the male colleague in their line.

The mean gender pay gap is calculated by comparing the average hourly rate of pay between male and female employees. The same approach is used to compare the difference in median and mean bonus pay. However, rather than taking a snapshot of a single day, this is based on bonus pay in the 12 month period to 5 April 2023. The percentage of male and female employees awarded bonus pay over the same period is also recorded.


How are the pay quartiles calculated?

This report also includes details of the percentage of male and female employees in each pay quartile, for example the gender split of those in the highest paid quarter of employees, the second highest quarter, and so on.


What’s included in our calculations?

In line with Government guidance, our median and mean pay calculations, and our calculations of quartile pay bands, are based on data from April 2023 only, including ordinary pay and bonus pay. Ordinary pay includes basic pay as well as pay for leave. It does not include pay given in lieu of leave, paid overtime, pay relating to redundancy/termination of employment, or the value of benefits in kind. Bonus pay includes any additional pay awarded to individuals for exceptional performance. In our case the bulk of bonus pay is awarded under our annual bonus scheme.


Understanding Our Results

Percentage of men and women in each hourly pay quarter: 

Pay Gap

Bonus Gap


Understanding The Gap

We’re encouraged to see that the mean bonus and pay gaps have improved very slightly, but the median gaps have seen an increase.  Both results stem from several key factors. 


Unlike Other Law Firms 

Unlike most other UK law firms, we are a limited company. As a result, we do not have equity partners who traditionally earn high amounts and can be excluded from the gender pay gap figures.  Although this is legitimate, it can significantly skew the figures. 

Every individual at HF is included in our figures in line with our limited company status – a change made to facilitate our all-employee share scheme.  To share our success with all our employees, in January 2023 we implemented the scheme which allows everyone at HF to own a piece of the company. This is a very rare opportunity, particularly in the legal field, and we’re proud to be leading the way with such a cutting edge approach.  



As part of our continued growth and diversification strategy, in addition to organic growth, we’ve expanded through the acquisition of experienced teams and individuals from other law firms.  As is common in the legal sector, the senior roles are more often held by men than women. 

Similarly, and as part of our focus on diversity and inclusion including social mobility, we’ve chosen to continue developing our talent pipeline through legal apprenticeships.  During the reporting period we took on 30 legal apprentices, of whom 21were female.  This gives us a larger percentage of females at the lowest end of the pay scale but, alongside our focus on promoting from within HF, it gives us a very promising pipeline of talent coming through the organisation to help address the balance. 

During 2023 we also actively acquired teams which included women at a senior level, who join the existing female talent across HF, but their arrival will not be reflected until next year’s reporting period.   


Career Development & Progression 

We continue our long-term commitment to developing our people and promoting from within HF.  We’ve seen the ongoing promotion of women across all levels, with women representing 58% of promotions to Associate, 64% of Associates, 33% of Associate Partners and 33% of Partners.   

We can see from these figures that the pipeline is building from the bottom up, in line with our policy of promoting from within, and that is also resulting in an increase year-on-year in the number of female Partners (2022 – 14.5%; 2023 – 19%; 2024 – 23%). 

We remain committed to accelerating that change and our recruitment and development frameworks and processes support the HF culture of inclusivity and diversity, offering the opportunity to succeed in law regardless of gender, background, beliefs, disabilities or any other factor.   


Flexible Working & Maternity Leave 

Our range of genuine flexible, hybrid working options and additional support during maternity leave are two of the mot important enablers facilitating progression across our business and we’re constantly developing and promoting our benefits to provide the best possible support. 

Enhanced maternity and adoption leave and flexible working options that offer extended start and finish times, compressed hours, weekend working and temporary part-time hours during school holidays, help our people better manage their work life balance and caring responsibilities.  

Currently 27.5% of women employed by HF take advantage of one of our flexible working options compared to 7.5% of men. 


Employee Networks 

Women at HF is one of our employee networks, with a high level of activity and engagement.  At a strategic level they help direct policies and initiatives to help improve gender equality. 

Every day the group is active in building relationships, sharing lived experiences, providing support and driving initiatives and events throughout the year that promote gender equality and cover topics that our people tell us are important to them.  

The Women at HF network will continue its great work and activities, alongside our other employee networks, to ensure we work together to provide gender equality and a genuinely inclusive culture for all.

See our previous reports: