Gender Pay Reporting

In this section

We are the largest independent retailer operating in the East of England.  We provide food stores and specialist services such as funerals, security, travel agents and petrol filling stations to communities across Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. With a significant property investment portfolio and other businesses, such as events and conference facilities and stonemasonry, we are a diverse and modern business.  As a co-operative business, we’re run differently to other big organisations as we are owned by our members who have a say in how we are run rather than by investors.  As with any commercial organisation, financial metrics are important, but we also place huge importance on how we do business.  This is in terms of how we support the local communities we operate in, how we work with local suppliers and being a responsible employer.

Our Gender Pay Gap reporting shows that our key focus needs to be on reducing the mean pay difference between men and women and this relates to the high proportion of male employees in our most senior and highest paid roles.  We have made a modest improvement within 2 years, but significant progress still needs to be made.  We are realistic that it will take a series of long-term actions to realise that significant change, but we are committed to improving our gender pay gap and attracting and progressing people from diverse backgrounds throughout our Society.

I confirm the information and data reported is accurate as at the snapshot date of 5 April 2019.


John Hawkins, Chair – Remuneration & Search Committee

East of England Co-operative Society Ltd.

Our Colleagues

The East of England Co-operative Society employed 4,188 colleagues as at the reporting date of 5 April 2019, across a diverse range of businesses and roles across Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire.  For the purpose of the Gender Pay Gap Regulations 3,320 of those colleagues were deemed to be relevant colleagues as at the snapshot date of 5 April 2019.

Across all our colleagues:

  • 66% of all our colleagues are female
  • 57% of our managers are female
  • 9 of our 16 Board members are female

Our Approach to Pay and Benefits
We believe in a fair and ethical approach to pay and that men and women are paid equally for doing equivalent jobs within our organisation.

  • Colleagues under the age of 25 are paid our full adult pay rate rather than using the lower rates permitted under national minimum wage regulations.
  • Hourly paid colleagues in Retail are immediately paid at the full rate for the role, rather than at a reduced ‘starter rate’.
  • The hourly rate of our high paid colleagues is just over 16 times that our lowest paid colleague.  This is within the maximum ratio of 1:20 recommended by the Work Foundation.
  • We provide sick, holiday and pension contributions that exceed statutory requirements.  We also provide life assurance, colleague discount and access to voluntary benefits such as cycle to work and interest free rental deposit salary advances to help colleagues secure a rental property.

What is Gender Pay Gap Reporting
Employers with 250 or more employees are required to publish information showing different calculations of any pay gap between their male and female colleagues.  Gender pay gap reporting shows the overall difference in the average pay for all men and women across our Co-op.  It doesn’t compare what men and women are paid for doing the same job, however the majority of our colleagues are paid a fixed hourly rate regardless of gender.  The figures below have been calculated using Society data as at 5 April 2019.

Women’s Hourly Rate           

Median  Mean
3.17% 18.34%
Lower   Lower
  • The median compares the hourly rate of the middle male role to the middle female role.
  • Our median pay gap would be 0% if based on basic pay only.  The difference of 3% is the result of other pay items captured by the Gender Pay Regulations such as stand-by and call-out payments which are more prevalent in roles with a high proportion of male colleagues such as Funeral, Security and IT operations.
  • The mean is calculated by adding up all the data separately for the women and the men and dividing by the number of women and men respectively.
  • Our mean difference is the result of having as evidence by having more men in the more senior and higher paying roles.

Pay Quartiles      

Pay Quartile Female Male
A - Lowest Pay to First Quartile 74.7% 25.3%
B - First Quartile to Second Quartile 67.2% 32.8%
C - Second Quartile to Third Quartile 67.0% 33.0%
D - Third Quartile to Highest Pay 48.9% 51.1%
  • We have sorted our colleagues in order from the highest to the lowest paid and then split them into 4 groups of equal numbers of people.
  • Whilst the gender pay split is quite balanced in the highest pay quartile; the most senior roles are still male dominated. 35 of our top 100 earners are female.             

We do not operate any bonus or performance related schemes which is why we do not report any data on gender pay bonus gaps.

What have we done to close our Gender Pay Gap?

  • We have implemented a new on-line Applicant Tracking System for recruitment. This will provide better consistency across all stages of the recruitment process and generate a more positive candidate experience.  It will also give better visibility of diversity and inclusion in our recruitment.
  • We held our 2nd International Women’s Day on 8 March 2019 for colleagues across our business areas for our colleagues to network, share success stories and learn from inspirational speakers.
  • We continue to promote flexible working for our roles and our Flexible Working policy has been updated to remove the statutory 26-week service qualification criteria before you make a flexible working request.  We also believe it is just as important for men to want and feel comfortable in exploring flexible working options.
  • We have continued to invest in the development of colleagues and grown our Apprenticeship Programmes.  These are heavily focused on supporting the development of existing colleagues in the business ranging from Level 3 to Level 7 apprenticeships.  Over 3 years we have 98 colleagues who have completed /currently undertaking an Apprenticeship, of which 41 (of which 16 are female) have been promoted since completing or during their Apprenticeship.
  • We have started to review our job descriptions and adverts using software that helps to detect if there is any gender bias in the wording used, to help attract and better balance of male and female candidates into roles.
  • We review our out of cycle pay increases to ensure fairness and consistency including male versus females increases.

Our Forward plan

  • Our highest priority action is to explore and understand what our female colleagues believe stops them / or stops them from wanting to progress further in the organisation.  We are planning to run some externally facilitated workshops, initially with female colleagues within line management and specialist roles in the Society to gain their insights and feedback.
  • We are investigating how we can improve our diversity and awareness training across the Society in 2020 including Unconscious Bias training.
  • We know there are further improvements we can make to our recruitment processes and practices from attraction, selection and understanding more about why people leave the Society.  We are appointing a dedicated Resourcing Manager who will oversee a number of improvements in these areas which will include how we can broaden the diversity of talent pools we access and attract talent from; particularly into roles which are dominated by a particular gender.
  • A review our family friendly policies to understand what further scope there may be to support our colleagues in balancing their work and family commitments.