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, Petrol Stations and Stonemasonry to our communities across Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. With a significant property investment portfolio and other businesses, such as events and conferencing facilities, 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 key focus continues to be reducing the mean pay difference between men and women. Our difference reflects that we have a high proportion of male employees in our most senior and highest paid roles so we are pleased to see a gradual increase in women in our top earnings quartile.  

We are realistic that it will take a series of long-term actions to realise real 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 2020.

John Hawkins

Chair – Remuneration & Search Committee
East of England Co-operative Society Ltd

Our Colleagues

The East of England Co-op employed 4,236 colleagues as at the reporting date of 5 April 2020, across a diverse range of business and roles across Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire. For the purpose of the Gender Pay Gap Regulations, 3,223 of those colleagues were deemed to be relevant colleagues as at the snapshot date of 5 April 2020.

Across all of our colleagues:

  • 66% of all 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, including that men and women are paid equally for performing equivalent jobs within our organisation.

  • Colleagues under the age of 25 are paid our full ‘adult’ pay rate rather than exercising the right to pay 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’.
  • The hourly rate of our highest paid colleague is 16.5 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 and pension contributions which exceed statutory requirements. We also provide life assurance, colleague discount and access to voluntary benefits, including a Cycle to Work scheme and interest-free rental deposit salary advances to help colleagues secure a rental property.
  • We have also introduced Family Leave pay terms this year to support colleagues in excess of statutory requirements including enhanced maternity and paternity pay, additional paid time off to attend appointments and extra paid leave for parents of babies requiring neonatal care. We now also offer paid time off to support women receiving IVF treatment.

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. This 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; and the majority of our roles attract a fixed rate of pay, regardless of the gender of the person performing that role.

Women’s Hourly Rate 

The following figures have been calculated using Society data as at 5 April 2020:          

 Mean  Median
 18.74%  3.11%
 Higher  Lower

The mean is calculated by adding up all the data separately for the men and women and dividing by the number of men and women respectively. Our mean difference is the result of having more men in the most senior and higher paying roles within the Society.

The median compares the hourly rate of the middle male role to the middle female role. Our median gap would be 0% if based on basic pay only. The difference of 3.11% is the result of other pay items captured by Gender Pay Regulations, 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.

Gender Pay Reporting Regulations mean that some colleagues are not included in the data set; most significantly this year, it will have been distorted by some of our furlough arrangements at the snapshot date of 5th April 2020. For the Society, this included a high proportion of female colleagues, like our Travel colleagues. As such, it is difficult to draw truly comparable results, but if all colleagues (apart from those affected by sickness absence) were included in reporting, our mean would be 15.32%.

Pay Quartiles      

Pay Quartile Female Male
A - Lowest Pay to First Quartile 77.2% 22.8%
B - First Quartile to Second Quartile 67.0% 33.0%
C - Second Quartile to Third Quartile 67.2% 32.8%
D - Third Quartile to Highest Pay 51.2% 48.8%

We have sorted our colleagues in order from the highest to the lower paid and then split them into 4 groups of equal numbers. Whilst the gender pay split is quite balanced and reflective of the Society’s colleague population; our most senior roles are male dominated (of our top 100 earners, 35 are female), reflected in the highest pay quartile data.

Note : 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.

What have we done to close our Gender Pay Gap?

  • Externally facilitated workshops: These provided valuable feedback and insights from our female colleagues, including what they see are the main barriers to their progression within the Society. This has been formulated into an Action Plan which we have already started to progress.
  • Improved Family Leave terms: From the above workshops, we identified we needed to do more to support our colleagues around Family Leave. At 1 April 2020, we introduced enhanced Family Leave terms and have reviewed our Family Leave processes to make these more accessible. We will imminently be rolling out a toolkit to help line managers support colleagues during and on their return from Family Leave.
  • Recruitment: Whilst HR resources were diverted to support our existing keyworker colleagues during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are starting to benefit from our Applicant Tracking System and the appointment of a Resourcing Manager. Our initial review of our job adverts (language and gender bias, where we advertise, etc.) has already seen an increase in the diversity of our applicants.
  • Colleague Progression: We are now tracking the gender balance of internal promotions in the Society in the 12 months to the 5 April 2020, 46% of promotions were female.
  • International Women’s Day: We held our 3rd event on 6 March 2020 with a focus on being the ‘very best you’. This was an opportunity for colleagues across our business areas to network, share success stories and learn from inspirational speakers.
  • Pay Reviews: We strictly govern any ‘out of cycle’ pay increases to ensure fairness and consistency.
  • Exit Interviews: We have introduced exit interviews, which are completed via an anonymous online survey. This is helping us to better understand the reasons why colleagues leave the Society.

Our Forward Plan

  • We will continue to progress our Gender Action Plan (based on the feedback from our facilitated colleague workshops). We’ve made some headway, but we know we have lots more to do.              
  • We are reviewing our Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) strategy. As part of this, we intend to introduce mandatory D&I training to all colleagues and unconscious bias training to senior and hiring managers.
  • Whilst we continue to promote flexible working, we will provide improved manager guidance (including ‘showcasing’ examples of arrangements in practice) with a view to increasing the number of requests we accommodate.
  • Our recruitment processes and practices remain under continuous review. We used a multi-stakeholder / multi-gender panel in our most recent senior management recruitment exercise and believe there is opportunity to introduce a similar approach across the business. We will also investigate options such as anonymous applications and automatic shortlisting (based on defined criteria) to reduce the impact of unconscious bias on our recruitment.