Grant Thornton has reported a gender pay gap that is larger than those of the Big Four accounting firms, attributing it to the imbalanced structure of its workforce.

Grant Thornton’s workforce is split almost equally by gender — 51% men to 49% women across its combined entities — but it has a mean gender pay gap of 26.56% and a mean bonus gap of 51.78%.

Among the Big Four, KPMG has the largest pay gap at 22.3%, followed by EY at 19.7%, Deloitte at 18.2%, and PwC at 13.7%.

Grant Thornton noted that women exceed men in its first-grade bracket but men predominate at higher levels — 64.5% at senior manager, 64.5% at associate director, and 75.9% at director — with the different pay levels at those levels almost completely accounting for the gender pay gap.

“The problem we need to solve is much greater than an issue about pay alone — and we are confident that we pay men and women comparably for the same or similar work, or work of equal value,” the firm said.

“Our gender pay difference is a symptom of the overall gender gap that manifests itself as our people’s careers progress, and the fact that there are more men than women in senior positions,” it added.

According to Accountancy Age, the Grant Thornton numbers support “other gender pay gap research that suggests the disparity does not stem from a lack of women in the workforce, but rather structural and cultural barriers that prevent women from traveling up the corporate pipeline.”

In its 2017 gender survey, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants found that partnership on average remains overwhelmingly male, with women representing only 22% of partners in accounting firms.

Grant Thornton said it has set targets of reducing the pay gap to 18% to 20% by 2020 and increasing the percentage of female partners from 16% to 22% by 2020 and 25% by 2022.

“It’s about doing the right thing — for society, business and for our people,” said Stephanie Hasenbos-Case, leader of people and client experience at Grant Thornton UK.

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One response to “Grant Thornton’s Pay Gap Tops Big Four”

  1. Compensation is an end result of billable hours and actual hourly recovery rate. When I was a partner we maintained a 21 point tracking metric. Base salary was equal to 30% of fees recovered, less extraordinary billings from the prior year personal production. 20% of all fees were set aside for partners to share equally. All staff participated in the bonus pool. 50% of fees less operating expenses were set aside in the bonus. Not everyone was awarded points for all 21 points, as some of them were exclusive to administrative staff. accumulated points as the numerator and total points as the denominator generated your percentage of the bonus pool. Points were awarded for:
    Billable hours
    Total hours
    Personal Billing rate
    Personal Recovery rate
    Staff Billing rates on your client book of business
    Staff Recovery rates on your client book of business
    Total fees generated from your book of business
    Total fees managing a book of business (allowing subordinates to Manage clients in your book of business)
    New client acquisition
    Department head management
    Specialty area management
    Client retention
    Staff management
    Staff mentoring
    Mentee performance
    percentage of personal goals achieved/surpassed

    Those that worked harder and smarter, were awarded for their efforts. All staff benefited from this method. If a senior manager billed low recovery rates for subordinate work performed, subordinates could elect to not do work for that senior manager. This keeps the manager honest and kept them from fee shifting to their own billable hours.

    We had administrative staff get bonuses greater than staff accountants. We had staff accountants get bonuses greater than account managers, and we had one account manager get a bonus greater than several partners.

    Guess what? Men always outperformed women overall. This had nothing to do with their degree, license, intelligence, or even their ability.

    Women have different motivations.

    They typically didn’t work as many hours, therefore, they had fewer billable hours.
    They typically managed their entire client book of business, which limits their ability to grow.
    They typically charged less for the services provided to their clients.

    We allowed partners to establish their own billing rates. However, low partner recovery rate percentage adversely affected their performance. Managers and staff accountants had input on their billable rates as soon as 30% of the fees they generate exceed their salary. In fact, that was the first rule of getting on partner track in my firm.

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