How do co-op retailers rate on the gender pay gap?

Retail societies have reported their figures in line with new government regulations

New regulations required thousands of firms to publish their gender pay figures in April and to report back annually.

The legislation applies to employers in England, Scotland and Wales with 250 or more employees, and publishes gender pay gap information on a government website. Employers are encouraged to take actions to reduce or eliminate their gender pay gaps prior to publication.

The data shows the difference in the average pay between all men and women in a workforce. The concept is different from that of equal pay, which deals with the pay differences between men and women carrying out comparable jobs. Men and women in comparable jobs are normally entitled to the same pay unless an employer can show differences are justified. Therefore, a gender pay gap does not equate to the existence of an equal pay problem, but may be a trigger for further investigation into why the gap exists.

The Office of National Statistics says that between 2011 and 2017, men’s pay grew by 10.4% from £13.12 to £14.48 per hour, while women’s pay grew by 12.0% from £11.75 to £13.16 per hour. In 2017, men on average were paid £1.32 more per hour than women, which, as a proportion of men’s pay, is a pay gap of 9.1%.

The pay gap has fallen from 10.5% in 2011 to 9.1% in 2017. But how are co-op retailers performing?

The co-op retailers to publish figures are: Co-op Group, Scotmid, Heart of England, Lincolnshire, Midcounties, Southern, Central England, Tamworth, Radstock, East of England, and Chelmsford Star.

Women’s mean hourly rate, compared to men’s, is lower for all co-op retailers, varying from 29.7% lower at Tamworth to 10% lower at Southern.

The mean hourly rate is the average hourly wage across an entire organisation so the mean gender pay gap is a measure of the difference between women’s mean hourly wage and men’s mean hourly wage.

Next, the figures consider the median hourly rate, calculated by ranking all employees from highest paid to lowest paid, and taking the hourly wage of the person in the middle; so the median gender pay gap is the difference between women’s median hourly wage (the middle paid woman) and men’s median hourly wage (the middle paid man).

This is 3.1% higher for women at  Midcounties – which means that, in median hourly terms, women employees at Midcounties earn £1.03 for every £1 that men earn.

At Radstock and Chelmsford Star, women earn the same as men by this measure. For all other co-ops the rate is lower for women, varying from 1.1% lower at Central England Co-operative to 12.8% at the Co-operative Group.

In terms of the proportion of women in the top quartile of jobs, co-ops reported different figures.

Pay quartiles are calculated by splitting all employees in an organisation into four even groups according to their level of pay. Looking at the proportion of women in each quartile offers evidence of women’s representation in an organisation.

Women occupy 60% of the top jobs at Tamworth and 58% at Scotmid and Midcounties, and 52% at Lincolnshire and Chelmsford Star.

They also represent significant proportions of the lower quartile: 83% at Tamworth, 77.7% at Lincolnshire, 76.1% at East of England, 73.2% at the Co-op Group and 72.6% at Radstock.

Apart from East of England, all paid bonuses to employees. Smaller societies such as Radstock and Tamworth paid bonuses to small percentages of women – 2% and 0.4% respectively and men 1.7% and 6.9%.

Looking at women’s mean bonus pay compared to men’s, this varies from 52.8% higher at Radstock to 80.5% lower at Central England and 72.9% at Midcounties. The Co-op Group has the lowest figure, with women’s median bonus pay being 3% lower than men’s, followed by Southern (18% lower) and Scotmid (23.1%). Tamworth has the biggest difference, with women’s median bonus pay 84.1% lower.

Pete Westall, general manager, co-operative social responsibility at Midcounties, said: “As a co-operative, creating a better, fairer world is part of our purpose. We commit to being a diverse and inclusive employer.

“Pleasingly, this commitment and our work in this area has been recognised by Business in the Community, who have awarded us a 5 star rating for our socially responsible business practices. Producing this report has provided us with a welcome opportunity to assess the gender equality within our organisation and outline how we plan to reinforce our supportive culture through further action.”

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