By Jonathan Davies

One of the UK's biggest accountancy firms has become one of the first major companies to publish the gender pay gap between its own employees.

Pre-empting likely government plans to force large companies to do just that, Deloitte revealed that women earn 17.8% less than their male colleagues on average.

But Deloitte, which employs more than 14,000 people in the UK, said the majority of that gap is due to a lack of women in more senior roles. The pay gap for men and women in the same grade job fell to just 1.5%.

And the accountancy giant said it needs to do more to get more women in senior positions.

David Sproul, chief executive at Deloitte, said: "This illustrates that for Deloitte, the issue is far less about how we pay our people and more about the number of women employed at senior grades.

“We believe that without a representative share of senior female employees average pay will never truly equalise. This is something we are working very hard to resolve.”

With those government rules around the corner, Deloitte and the others of the 'Big Four' accountancy firms have all been trying to increase the number of women higher up in the business. At Deloitte and EY, nearly a third of new partners were female and just under a quarter of PwC's new promoted partners were women.