A note from Beverley Perkins (Chair, Remuneration & Search Committee)

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, Petrol Stations and Stonemasonry to our communities across the East of England.  With a significant property investment portfolio and other businesses, 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; they have a say in how we are run, rather than investors. As with any commercial organisation, our financial performance is important, but we also place huge importance on how we do business. We care about 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 median gap despite being historically quite small (reflective of our pay practices) has further reduced this year, linked to increasing representation of women in roles which attract additional payments (e.g. Funeral Services roles which involve callouts and unsocial hours).

Our key focus continues to be our mean pay difference between men and women and, whilst there is still a long way to go, we are pleased to have seen a significant reduction, arising from increasing representation of women in senior and higher paying roles at our co-op.

We recognise that real and sustained change will be realised through a series of long-term actions, but we are committed to improving our Gender Pay Gap and attracting and progressing people from diverse backgrounds throughout our co-op. Some examples of what we’ve done this year, along with what we’re planning to do moving forward, are detailed within this report.

I confirm the information and data reported is accurate as at the snapshot date of 5 April 2023.

Our Approach to Pay & Benefits

We believe in a fair and ethical approach to pay and that our colleagues should be paid equally for performing equivalent jobs within our co-op.

  • Colleagues under the age of 23 are paid our full ‘adult’ pay rate rather than the lower rates permitted under national minimum wage regulations. 
  • Hourly-paid colleagues in retail are immediately paid at the full pay rate for the role, rather than at a reduced ‘starter rate’.
  • Most of our roles attract a fixed rate of pay as opposed to being linked to other individual factors.
  • The hourly rate of our highest paid colleague is 16 times that of our lowest paid colleague. This is within the maximum ratio of 1:20 recommended by The Work Foundation. 
  • We provide sick, holiday, pension contributions and family leave benefits which exceed statutory requirements, as well as a life assurance scheme. Over the last 12 months we have invested in further improvements to our colleague benefits, including 100s of new discounts, new cycle to work scheme, salary advance and financial wellbeing product, payroll-giving scheme, amongst others.

Our Gender Pay Gap

We employed 3,725 colleagues (some holding more than one role with us) as at the reporting date of 5 April 2023, across a diverse range of business and roles within the East of England. For the purpose of the Gender Pay Gap reporting, 3,326 of those colleagues were deemed to be relevant colleagues at 5 April 2023.

Note: Gender pay reporting requirements mean that gender must be reported in a binary way, recognising only men and women. Therefore, we base our reporting on recorded sex. However, it is worth highlighting that as part of commitment to diversity, equity & inclusion, our internal diversity data collection allows colleagues to select and/or self-describe their gender.



The mean is calculated by adding up all the data separately for our male and female colleagues and dividing by the number of males and females respectively.   





The above shows that mean average female hourly pay is 14.63% less than the mean average male hourly pay. This is 3.53% better than 2022.


The median is calculated by (separately) putting the male and female data in order of lowest to highest and then selecting the middle value.





The above shows that the median average female pay is 2.58% less than the median average male pay. This is 1.89% better than 2022.
Pay Quartiles
  • Our pay quartiles are quite balanced, so much as they are reflective of our overall colleague population. However, there is a relative imbalance in our upper pay quartile. This represents that we have more men in the most senior and higher paying roles within our co-op and this is the main contributory factor to our mean gender pay gap.
  • We have maintained our wider gender split in management roles (60% female) and we’re pleased to have seen some significant changes within our upper quartile during 2022/23. This has resulted in the reported improvements to our mean gender pay gap.
  • Our median gender pay gap would be 0% if based on basic pay only. The difference of 2.58% is the result of other pay items captured by Gender Pay Gap reporting, including 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. We have continued to see growth in the number of women in our Funeral Operative and Director roles (which typically attract the majority of ancillary payments), increasing by a further 6% in the last year. This will have helped drive the reduction in our median gender pay gap.
  • We do not operate any bonus or performance related pay remuneration schemes which is why we do not report any data on gender pay bonus gaps.

How we're closing our Gender Pay Gap

Policy and resources

Informed by our colleague listening group, we launched a menopause policy and supporting resources and guidance. This includes ideas for reasonable adjustments (based on what our colleagues told us about their experiences), guidance for managers on discussing the menopause with members of their team, as well as other resources and signposting to support.


Looking forward, we will continue to identify areas where we can improve the support we offer colleagues. For example, we recognise that a high proportion of our workforce (when compared to local ONS Census 2021 data) have caring responsibilities and so we will look to focus on developing an effective and supportive policy and package of resources for our managers and colleagues.

Whilst our repeat colleague survey told us that incidence of inappropriate behaviour at work is down (as a percentage of respondents), we are already focussing on policy development and improvements in this area (to include sexual harassment).


We are now routinely capturing diversity data for candidates applying to work at our co-op. We utilise a variety of attraction strategies and have also trialled new application and selection techniques, including an increased focus on behaviours and competencies (and not being overly prescriptive about work experience), as well as mixed diversity in interview panels.

Moving forward, we will continue to develop our employment pathways partnerships with local charities and services, and will seek to identify further opportunities to combat unconscious bias.  


Alongside employment partnerships, we are pleased to be working with Hey Girls who source and supply ethical and sustainable sanitary products - these will be available within all colleague locations by the end of 2023. For each product that we purchase, a free product will be shared with the local community.


During 2023-24, our co-op will focus on the development of all-colleague awareness training in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion.


This year, we launched ‘Our Journey’ articles. Shared via our internal colleague App, as well as externally, these helped to share real colleague stories and examples of different career pathways – including of women in managerial and senior positions at our co-op.

Looking forward, we are currently recruiting a Talent Acquisition & Development Leader who will lead both of our Learning & Development and Resourcing teams, with a strong focus on talent and progression within our co-op.

Using data to understand opportunities for action

Since our last report, we have repeated our colleague engagement and experience survey and were pleased to see an increase in all areas relating to fairness and inclusion.

In addition to this insight, an ongoing priority for our co-op is to improve our understanding of our colleagues through increasing our capture of diversity data. This will be included as part of our new People dashboard (currently being developed), alongside existing measures (e.g. tracking promotions by gender).


We continue to strictly govern any ‘out of cycle’ pay increases to ensure fairness and consistency.