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 the east of England. 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 median gap is historically quite small, reflecting our pay practices, albeit it has increased slightly this year. However, our key focus continues to be reducing the mean pay difference between men and women; there is still a long way to go despite a small decrease this year. This difference reflects a higher proportion of male employees in our most senior and highest paid roles. Secondly, roles which tend to attract the highest level of premium payments (for call-out, unsocial hours etc) have an under representation of women but we have made some progress in this over the past year.

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 co-op.

Full details of the actions we have taken and are going to take, are in this Gender Pay report (detailed in full below). This forward plan is linked to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and contains a range of actions that includes a new Inclusion & Diversity Policy and reviewing our approach to recruitment. 

I confirm the information and data reported is accurate as at the snapshot date of 5 April 2022. 

Beverley Perkins

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

Our Colleagues

The East of England Co-op employed 3,656 colleagues (some holding more than one role with us) as at the reporting date of 5 April 2022, across a diverse range of business and roles across the east of England. For the purpose of the Gender Pay Gap Regulations, 2,680 of those colleagues were deemed to be relevant colleagues as at the snapshot date of 5 April 2022. 

Across all of our colleagues:

  • 67% of all colleagues are female
  • 60% of our managers are female (vs 58% at the same time last year)
  • 33% of our Leadership / Senior Management team are female (vs 20% at the same time last year)
  • 12 of our 16 Board members are female

Our Approach to Pay and Benefits

We believe in a fair and ethical approach to pay, and our colleagues irrespective of their differences 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 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 less than 13.5 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, pension contributions and family leave benefits which exceed statutory requirements. We also provide life assurance, colleague discount and access to voluntary benefits, such as 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. 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; although most of our roles attract a fixed rate of pay, regardless of the gender of the person performing that role.

Current requirements for gender pay reporting 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 inclusion and diversity, our internal diversity data collection allows colleagues to select and / or self-describe their gender.

Women’s Hourly Rate 

The following figures have been calculated using Society data as of 5 April 2022:          

 Mean  Median
 18.16% (lower than men)  4.47% (lower than men)

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 our co-op and it is only our top paid quartile where women have an average lower hourly rate.  As detailed above, progress is being made with a gradual increasing representation of women in management and senior management positions which has resulted in a slightly improvement in our mean difference.

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 4.47% 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.  Over the past 12 months we have seen a growing proportion of women in roles in Funeral which typically attract additional payments for callouts etc, and women are taking a larger share of Funeral Ancillary payments.  We are conscious our median figure has slightly increased this year but looking at the underlying data we believe this is attributable to the fact the data is based on a specific snap-shot period with a relatively large number of colleagues (with a high proportion being female) that were omitted from the reporting this year in line with the Gender Pay Gap reporting guidelines.

Our Pay Quartiles

We have sorted our colleagues in order from the highest to the lower paid and then split them into 4 groups of equal numbers.

Pay Quartile Women Men
A - Lowest Pay to First Quartile 77.6% 22.4%
B - First Quartile to Second Quartile 67.5% 32.5%
C - Second Quartile to Third Quartile 67.2% 32.8%
D - Third Quartile to Highest Pay 47.5% 52.5%

Whilst the gender pay split is overall quite balanced and reflective of our colleague population; there is an imbalance in most senior roles (of our top 100 earners, 31 are female), which is 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?

  • Steering Group: In Summer 2021, we established an Inclusion & Diversity Steering Group, with representatives from across our business including our Trade Union, USDAW. The Steering Group has helped to shape and prioritise our newly developed Inclusion & Diversity Strategic Plan alongside input and expertise from our internal audit partner PwC.
  • Data: One of the key actions within our Inclusion & Diversity Strategic Plan was to establish a better understanding of our workforce through improved data.  We have developed and launched a new diversity questionnaire for both applicants and colleagues at our co-op. Whilst there are many benefits, one, is to allow better insight into the diversity of our recruitment, which we can target to review at middle to senior management levels.
  • Policy: We developed and published a new Inclusion & Diversity Policy (which replaced our previous Equal Opportunities Policy).  As it suggests, this reflects our aspiration to move beyond equality to a truly inclusive workplace.
  • Pregnancy Loss: We introduced a new Pregnancy Loss Policy which outlines our support (including paid leave) to anyone who experiences pregnancy loss. We also developed a supporting manager guide and published awareness materials to help colleagues who may be supporting someone else who has experienced pregnancy or baby loss.
  • Flexible Working: We reviewed our processes around flexible working requests and have made changes to help make this feel ‘friendlier’, provide more consistency in how these are managed, and to enable central reporting on requests and outcomes. We’ve also focussed on promoting flexible working, through a dedicated information section within our newly launched colleague app, and through showcasing real examples.
  • Survey: In 2021, we relaunched our colleague engagement survey and, for the first time, this included specific inclusion measures. This was developed and administered by an external provider, People Insight. 75% of respondents agreed that they can be their true selves at work, whilst 86% agreed that everyone is welcome at our co-op, regardless of their background, identity, or ability.
  • Menopause Listening Group: We have recently established a Menopause Listening Group, with representatives from across our co-op, to explore how we can improve the support we offer to colleagues experiencing the menopause whilst working here.
  • Recruitment: Starting with our most prevalent role, Customer Service Assistant, we’re reviewing our job descriptions, adverts and selection practices to be aligned to our new strategic values and to be more skills and behaviours focussed. This review will also identify other opportunities to make our recruitment activity more inclusive.
  • SDG:  Part of our newly appointed Head of Sustainability’s role is to report against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, including Gender Equality.  As part of this, we have started investigating other areas of gender comparison, including the number of hours training received.
  • Awareness: The launch of our new online colleague community, The Loop, (June 2022) gives us the opportunity to be much more dynamic and engaging in our colleague communications.  We’ve developed an annual inclusivity communications calendar to promote awareness and key events amongst our colleagues.
  • Colleague Progression:  We continue to monitor and track the gender balance of internal promotions in the Society – reported at an Executive and individual business level. In the 12 months to the 5 April 2022, 53% of promotions were female, moving closer to our gender profile.
  • Agile Working: Since the pandemic, we have been trialling agile working arrangements within our Central Functions. To the extent that their role can still be performed, we have empowered colleagues in these areas to blend home and office-working in a way which is right for them.  Further to a successful trial period which provided more flexibility and benefits for our colleagues and the business alike, we were pleased to confirm that these arrangements will remain ongoing.
  • Pay Reviews:  We continue to strictly govern any ‘out of cycle’ pay increases to ensure fairness and consistency.

Our Forward Plan

  • Menopause:  We recognise that providing better menopause support for colleagues is a tactic in addressing our gender pay gap.  As above, we have established a colleague listening group, with the view to introducing a menopause policy and supporting guidance and resources informed by their experience later this year.
  • Data:  We will continue to take steps to improve our diversity data and use this to inform our next steps. For example, we are now asking colleagues about their caring responsibilities within our diversity questionnaire and will explore what more we can do to support working carers (CarersUK state that women are more likely to be carers).

    We will also assess what diversity data we are reporting internally and how, with a view to making this more visible and relevant.
  • Recruitment:  As above, we will continue to review our job descriptions, adverts and selection practices to be aligned to our new values and to be more skills and behaviours focussed.  This is an ongoing and long-term action due to us having many different roles given the diversity of our business.
  • Colleague Progression:  We will use our newly launched colleague app to increase awareness of different roles within our co-op and to showcase different colleagues’ career journeys, including examples of women who have progressed into mid to senior level management roles.
  • PDR:  Like our recruitment review, we have reviewed our annual performance review process to align to our values and to be more skills and behaviours focused.  Our new PDR approach will be launched in 2023.