Southern Co-op Gender Pay Gap 2018


The gender pay gap is an equality measure that shows the difference in earnings between women and men. Helping women reach their full potential is not just the right thing to do, it also makes good economic sense. Those companies that 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 in April 2018 and then every year after that.

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

Based on the data UK companies provided in April 2018, the gap was 9.8%. This means that women on average earn nearly 10% less than men.

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 £430m and employ 4,300 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
  • The majority of colleagues are paid a fixed hourly rate, regardless of gender.
  • The hourly pay of our Chief Executive is 16.8 times that of an adult Customer Service Associate. This is within the maximum ratio of 1:20 recommended by the Work Foundation. 

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.
  • We have a Reward Policy endorsed by our Board of Directors via the Remuneration Committee.
  • Hourly paid new starters in Retail are immediately paid at the full rate for their role, rather than at a reduced ‘starter rate’.
  • All salaried roles are evaluated using an internationally recognised and robust job evaluation framework which aligns our pay framework to the job role.
  • We ensure holiday entitlements exceed statutory requirements.
  • All colleagues participate in a bonus scheme; receive life assurance, colleague discount and access to an Employee Assistance Programme.
  • We provide all colleagues with access to voluntary benefits including a 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 APRIL 2018 data

As required by the legislation, we looked at our data from 5 April 2018 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 (Female average service = 4.7 yrs; Male = 3.3 yrs). 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.

Because of this, there has been no significant movement between the data from 2017 and that from 2018.

What we’ve achieved in the past year


One of the barriers to equal pay can be lack of information and clarity about pay structures. During 2018 we have carried out an education program to ensure all our salaried colleagues understand how we use job evaluation within Southern Co-op to determine job bands; how we use salary ranges linked to job bands; how we position salaries within those ranges; and know how their job has been evaluated and where they sit in their salary range.

  • Information booklet shared with salaried colleagues
  • Workshops run for managers, developed in consultation with a colleague team
  • Pay ranges published for all salaried job roles


We have introduced a standard framework to manage pay progression to ensure a consistent and fair approach.

  • Colleagues below 90% of salary range = ensure progression plan is documented, signed off and shared with each individual showing how they will be reviewed to 90%
  • Colleagues at 90 – 120% of salary range = out of cycle pay increases are reviewed to check for consistency and fairness
  • As part of the governance process, our Leadership Team collectively review plans on an annual basis


We have implemented a newly centralised recruitment model with the primary aim being to ensure all applicants receive a positive experience of interacting with Southern Co-op.

  • The new technology and recruitment processes introduced enable a consistent approach to screening & shortlisting candidates
  • This system also enables us to access data which can track the demographics of our applicants, helping us to understand the diversity mix from application to offer


To help us better understand all aspects of the colleague employment experience we now actively solicit feedback from new starters after 12 weeks service, and from colleagues who have chosen to leave us.

  • Run by confidential third party so colleague privacy is ensured
  • Includes questions on pay and benefits so we can understand how these impact on the colleague experience and decision making process

Our next steps

To progress with our gender pay gap, we need to reduce our level of labour turnover so we can focus more attention on targeted candidate attraction. This is especially important given the current challenges in our labour market.

We want female colleagues to be better represented in more senior roles

  • Understanding and removing perceived barriers to entry will continue to be our focus
  • We will look at our attraction strategy to target under-represented groups, informed by analysis of the data available from our recruitment team
  • We will also create opportunities to progress via the use of apprenticeships, helping all who wish to do so progress through a clear career structure

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.

  • The insights from our employment surveys will be used to offer more flexible innovative contract options for our Retail colleagues which promote meaningful and attractive employment opportunities.
  • We will also start to gather insights from all candidates who apply to work for us to understand how we can further refine our attraction strategy and ensure Southern Co-op is appealing as an employer to a diverse demographic.