Right from the start, we wanted FreeAgent to be a place where everyone is able to be themselves and do their best work. Since then, we’ve built on our culture to create a place where people can own, enjoy and be proud of their work. We want people to feel nurtured, at ease, empowered and engaged. We value our diverse team and believe that the variety of our experiences and backgrounds only makes us stronger.
FreeAgent takes a number of steps to continuously improve on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) within our organisation and beyond. You can find out more about some of our corporate social responsibility activities on our sustainability page.
On this page, we’ve outlined the activities we carry out to ensure we are accountable for and act on the inclusion of women in particular, as this is one of the biggest inclusion challenges that we face in the tech sector.
The gender pay gap
The gender pay gap is the difference between the average (mean or median) earnings of men and women across all roles in an organisation.
A gender pay gap does not necessarily mean a company is paying men and women unfairly or unequally. However, it does highlight where, on average, one gender is obtaining a higher rate of pay overall. This sometimes uncovers:
- an imbalance in the proportion of men and women in more senior positions (which typically offer higher pay)
- potential barriers to one gender accessing the kind of work that would result in additional payments or bonuses
On 4th April each year, all private UK employers with 250 employees or more are required to report and publish their gender pay gap information.
FreeAgent’s gender pay gap
We have reported our gender pay gap figures for the last three years. Gender pay gap reporting only recognises binary gender. To recognise our employees’ diversity, we have used gender identity for all employees who have provided this data to calculate our gender pay gap (using legal gender where gender identity information has not been provided).
Based on a snapshot date of 5th April 2023, our gender pay gap figures are:
- Mean (average) gender pay gap: 21.2%
- Median gender pay gap: 26.0%
The table below shows the proportion of men and women in each pay quartile at FreeAgent. To calculate this, the average hourly pay for each employee is calculated and pulled into a list. We then sort this list in order from highest to lowest pay, split this into four groups, and then determine the proportion of men and women in each group.
|Upper hourly pay quartile
|Upper middle hourly pay quartile
|Lower middle hourly pay quartile
|Lower hourly pay quartile
Along with the mean and median gender pay gap, employers also have to publish bonus pay gap figures by analysing payments over a 12-month period to calculate the difference in payments that men and women receive in the form of bonuses. The UK government’s gender pay gap reporting guidance requires employers to include specific types of payments in the bonus pay calculations. For FreeAgent, these include payments such as commission. The regulations also include gift vouchers as ‘bonus pay’. We find these can give an unrepresentative view of real bonus payments, so we have reported our figures with and without gift vouchers to show a more representative view of bonuses.
In the 12 months up to and including 5th April 2023, 14.9% of men and 9.2% of women at FreeAgent received bonus pay (22.7% of men and 24.2%* of women if we include gift vouchers, as per statutory bonus pay gap regulations). Our bonus pay gap figures are:
- Mean (average) bonus pay gap: 64.6% (64.3%* if we include gift vouchers)
- Median bonus pay gap: 29.6% (99.7%* if we include gift vouchers)
*The statutory bonus gap calculated in line with regulation is based on the total amount of payments described as bonus pay, including gift vouchers (mean 64.3%, median 99.7%). This means that even colleagues who received a small recognition award – for example, £10 in vouchers – are included in the calculations. We currently have a higher proportion of men in roles with more significant bonus pay such as commission, therefore we believe the figures excluding gift vouchers are the most accurate reflection of our gender bonus gap today.
Tracking our gender pay gap
We also reflect on our past figures to help us track our progress on reducing the gap, and identify any reasons for changes.
Our gender pay gap figures for 5th April 2022 were:
- Mean (average) gender pay gap: 25.6%
- Median gender pay gap: 27.6%
We have seen a reduction in our mean and median gender pay gap figures since 2022. We are confident that our efforts to support inclusion and equality of opportunity have supported these changes over time.
We’ve seen a gradual increase in representation of women in the two upper pay levels over the last two years of reporting. Over the 2022-2023 reporting year, 48% of colleagues being promoted were women, despite making up a smaller proportion of our workforce (43%).
The proportions of men and women in each pay quartile as of 5th April 2022 were as follows:
|Upper hourly pay quartile
|Upper middle hourly pay quartile
|Lower middle hourly pay quartile
|Lower hourly pay quartile
In the 12 months up to and including 5th April 2022, 13.4% of men and 11.0% of women at FreeAgent received bonus pay (22.1% of men and 20.2%* of women if we include gift vouchers, as per statutory bonus pay gap regulations). Our bonus pay gap figures are:
- Mean (average) bonus pay gap: 37.3% (36.9% if we include gift vouchers)
- Median bonus pay gap: 25.6% (78.5% if we include gift vouchers)
Year on year, our mean and median bonus pay gap figures have increased. We believe this is primarily due to previous changes in our business which led to our 2022 reporting reflecting less than a normal year of bonus payments, and that our 2023 bonus gap is a more accurate representation of a normal year of bonuses.
We have a high proportion of men in our executive team, and in roles that attract ‘bonus’ pay or additional pay, such as commission. This is one of the biggest influencing factors of our gender pay gap and bonus gender pay gap.
Addressing our gender pay gap
At FreeAgent, we’re committed to paying people fairly and consistently. We undertake a lot of activities to ensure that everyone has access to the same pay and progression opportunities. We pay all of our employees a living wage, train our employees and managers on unconscious bias and inclusion, and have transparent pay and promotion processes.
However, our data shows that there is more work to be done at FreeAgent. Our current priorities to address our gender pay gap and bonus pay gap include:
Attracting diverse applicants
As is the case across the tech industry, many of our more technical roles have traditionally attracted a high proportion of male applicants. To help attract a broader range of candidates to FreeAgent, we partner with key organisations to promote STEM learning, engage with further education institutions and organise events and outreach activities to attract individuals from under-represented groups.
Ensuring our recruitment processes are fair and transparent
We have a written policy about how we recruit inclusively at FreeAgent. We review wording in our job adverts to remove language that could be non-inclusive or deter certain demographic groups from applying, and advertise our salary bands to provide transparency over pay. We also anonymise CVs and assessments to help mitigate risk of bias and conduct structured interviews to ensure a consistent approach with every candidate. We track the progression of women through our recruitment pipeline to ensure lack of bias in our processes. Our selection decisions involve group reviews to include a diverse range of views in our decision-making process.
Ensuring our talent management processes are fair and transparent
We want FreeAgent to be a place where people from all backgrounds have the same opportunities to develop in their careers. We work with a number of organisations, such as Inclusive Employers, to improve our awareness of inclusion issues and maintain inclusive processes.
We take time to understand and document the detailed requirements of each role, which are used in assessing performance. This helps us to match our performance ratings to a specific salary on our salary bands, which means that if someone is working in the same role as someone else and has the same performance, they will have the same salary. Our reward and promotion processes are detailed at length on our intranet and all of our people have access to view the salary bands for their department. Each year, we review our promotion and reward process to ensure it’s fit for purpose, fair and transparent.
We measure the outputs of our performance review and promotion processes to ensure women are receiving the same opportunities and treatment as men. For example, by tracking the proportion of men and women being promoted in each promotion review.
We have a fair treatment at work policy and we have an annual equality, diversity and inclusion survey to seek feedback on our processes and identify any barriers to inclusion to be addressed.
Flexible policies and work-life balance
FreeAgent has always been committed to providing flexible approaches to work in order to support employees’ work-life balance and remove barriers to progression. We believe we have a good work-life balance at FreeAgent: we don’t expect our people to work more than their contracted hours and we provide flexibility to support employees in managing their personal commitments. We operate a hybrid working arrangement with our office-based employees to enable people to balance their work and home life.
We approve flexible working requests wherever possible, including changing hours, work patterns and work location. We advertise our roles as open to flexible working and display the ‘happy to talk flexible working’ logo on our careers page. In advance of it being a legislative requirement, we made flexible working requests a right from day one and we allow more frequent flexible working requests than the legal entitlement.
Reducing barriers to progression for working parents
Typically, our female colleagues outnumber our male colleagues as primary caregivers for children, and aspects of childcare can often affect people’s ability to work the hours they might want to, or progress their career. For example, the cost of childcare often restricts the number of hours parents can work (if they would earn less than they would pay in childcare fees) or reduces the likelihood of being able to work at all.
Typically, women are more likely to take time off to care for a new baby than men. Time out of their career can affect their progression. A long period of time spent out of the workplace can also mean they have to work harder to get up to speed when they return, potentially leading to a further delay in their progression.
To mitigate these barriers, we provide a number of additional support arrangements for working parents.
In 2023 we introduced more generous paternity leave, which we’ve renamed ‘Partner leave’ to be more inclusive of all types of family. This includes more time off and enhanced pay to enable partners to spend more time with their new family member. We hope that this will help to create a more equal balance of parenting responsibilities.
Our shared parental leave policy includes generously enhanced pay, which matches the terms of our maternity pay exactly. This means that parents of any gender can take the same amount of leave and pay as a birthing parent is entitled to. In providing this enhanced pay, we hope to encourage parents of all gender identities to take up the option of leave and ensure our policies are inclusive of all parents. We’ve seen an uptake in shared parental leave over the last 12 months.
We have a partnership with a UK-wide nursery childcare provider, which provides a discount to our employees to access reduced childcare fees, supporting parents when they would like to return to work.
We have a reboarding programme for people returning from long-term leave, which includes a structured reboarding checklist to complete, information to get them up to speed, inductions, and training for their managers. We also offer parental returner coaching to parents returning to work after long-term leave, to support their transition to being a working parent and reduce the impact time off has on their progression.
Reducing barriers to progression for all women
Following the success of our parental returner coaching, in 2023 we set up coaching aimed at supporting women in our management career path to progress into leadership positions, focusing on our under-represented departments in particular.
We’ve identified that providing support during menopause and perimenopause is a priority to help keep women in work and reduce barriers to progression. As a result, in 2023 we’re also focusing on setting up additional support for those experiencing symptoms of menopause.
We hope that all of the actions outlined will help to reduce barriers to progression for women and look forward to measuring the impact of these over the coming months. FreeAgent will continue to review and improve our policies, procedures, processes and training to reduce our gender pay gap.
FreeAgent’s Chief Executive Officer, Roan Lavery, has signed off FreeAgent’s gender pay gap reports and our Chief People Officer, Donald Lindsay, is managing our action plan to address the company’s gender pay gap issues.
FreeAgent’s Chief Executive Officer, Roan Lavery, confirms that the above information is accurate and meets the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017.