According to new data released by the professional services firm, the median pay gap for staff from a lower socio-economic background stood at 12.1 per cent. 

PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the Big Four accounting firms, has revealed that under 15 per cent of its employees come from a lower socio-economic background.

In addition to this, the company has further divulged the socio-economic pay gap at their company which shows that working class employees earn a median of 12.1 per cent less than their colleagues from “professional” backgrounds.

However, excluding partners, this gap narrowed marginally to 10.9 per cent.

More drastically, the median bonus gap along the lines of socio-economic background stood at 24.1 per cent, showing a disparity of almost a quarter between those from different backgrounds.

PwC has categorised staff members into specific class brackets using the occupations of their parents.

These findings revealed a larger median pay gap due to staff’s socio-economic backgrounds compared to gender (6 per cent) or ethnicity (-2.9 per cent).

However, even results among different ethnic groups varied substantially. For PwC employees from an Asian or Mixed background, the ethnicity pay gap was skewed in the way of the minority groups – at -3.4 per cent and -3.8 respectively.

Conversely, among other employees such as Black and Chinese staff, there was a median pay gap of 1.1 per cent and 4.9 per cent, highlighting a potential problem with categorising BAME data as a monolithic group.

The company noted it has “held itself accountable to disclose more than [they] are required to” as the “transparency and accountability that diversity metrics bring – including pay gap data – is crucial in driving equity and fairness”.

The professional services firm also expressed “delight” that their efforts have been recognised by the Social Mobility Foundation where PwC achieved the number one position for two years running in the Social Mobility Employer Index.

This disclosure from the firm comes days after another Big Four company, KPMG, set a target of having over a quarter (29 per cent) of its partners and directors to come from working class backgrounds by 2030.

TUC also recently revealed a class divide emerging as a result of the pandemic. Low-paid workers were four times more likely to state they were unable to afford taking time off sick compared to people from higher socio-economic backgrounds. These staff members were also significantly less likely to report receiving full pay when they did need to take time off sick.

In order to tackle these problems, PwC confirmed that they were implementing a five-step plan, including:

  • Running inclusive leadership programmes to help leaders at all levels create a culture where difference is embraced
  • Ensuring senior level accountability for delivering on publicly disclosed targets, aligning their accountability framework to both performance management and reward
  • Providing fair access to the best work opportunities
  • Investing in new recruitment tools to reduce an unintended bias in their processes and are using data to monitor their progress
  • Creating more progression coaches to provide career sponsorship and advice to high potential female and ethnic minority directors






Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.