Southern Co-op Gender Pay Gap 2017


The gender pay gap is an equality measure that shows the difference in earnings between women and men.  In the UK, the gap is at its lowest level ever – just over 18 per cent.  This means that women on average earn 18% less than men.

Helping women reach their full potential is not just the right thing to do, it also makes good economic sense. Those companies which are best for gender diversity are also more likely to show better financial results.

To help eliminate the gap and encourage organisations to understand their own position and address the diversity challenges they may have, new legislation came into force in April 2017.  This requires UK employers with more than 250 employees to publish information about their gender pay gap by April 2018 and annually thereafter.

If you’d like to know more about the measures and why they’ve been chosen, you can check out the government website.


About Us

Southern Co-op ( is a large, regional independent co-operative operating over 270 food and funeral branches across the south of England, plus a natural burial ground in West Sussex and crematoria in south east Hampshire and east Devon.

Owned by our 165,000+ members, we have an annual turnover of over £390m and more than 4,600 colleagues.  Southern Co-op’s sustainable business approach underpins a commitment to providing a fair, fresh approach for all which is manifested through fundraising for local charities, supporting environmental and community owned organisations and working with local food producers.

  • Our Board of Directors is made up of five women and six men
  • Our Leadership team is made up of three women and four men
  • Just under two-thirds of all our colleagues are female, while one-third of our managers are female


Our approach to pay and benefits

  • We believe in a fair and ethical approach to pay, where men and women are paid equally for doing equivalent jobs, with all appointments free of bias and based on merit.
  • We are committed to transparency and promoting gender equality.
  • The majority of colleagues in our food stores and End of Life Services (ELS) business are paid on a fixed hourly rate based on the job role. New starters are immediately paid at the full rate for their role, rather than at a reduced ‘starter rate’.
  • For salaried colleagues, we use an internationally recognised and robust job evaluation framework to align our pay framework to the job role.
  • The hourly pay of our highest paid colleague is 16.8 times that of our lowest paid adult colleague. This is within the maximum ratio of 1:20 recommended by the Work Foundation.
  • We provide holiday entitlements that exceed statutory requirements. All our colleagues participate in a bonus scheme; receive life assurance, colleague discount and access to an Employee Assistance Programme. In addition to this, colleagues have access to voluntary benefits including childcare vouchers; cycle to work scheme; Healthcare cash plan & our Share Incentive plan.



The measures  (NB. pictures are examples only to help explain the calculations – not based on our data)



Our Data

As required by the legislation, we looked at our data from 5 April 2017 and our results are shown below.


Understanding our data

We’ve looked at the underlying reasons for our Gender Pay Gap figures and found some key themes which help us understand the results.

  • The majority of our colleagues work in Retail and ELS on fixed hourly rates
  • Women who enter our business tend to stay with us longer than men. This means they’re more likely to receive a bonus payment.
  • There is less opportunity for part-time working the more senior the role is within our society.
  • Women are more likely to work in part time roles, so receive less pay overall. Since bonus is paid as a % of pay, this means they also receive lower bonus payments.
  • More men tend to progress into management roles or join us at management levels. These are higher paying positions which also lead to higher bonus payments.

The biggest cause of gaps in our gender pay is not because women earn less than men for doing the same job – it’s because women in our organisation tend to work part time more than men; and there are more men in our higher paying management roles.


Next steps

We want female colleagues to be better represented in more senior roles so understanding and removing barriers to entry will be our focus over the next 3 years.

We also want to start a debate within our society about which roles could be suited to being carried out on a part-time or job share basis.