Interim report highlights gender pay gap in retail

Diversity in Retail has published an interim report on the gender pay gap in retail, which shows it is significantly lower than that in hospitality, travel and leisure.

fall in employment for women


The retail sector has an average gender pay gap of 9.9%, one of the lowest in industry, according to an interim report from Diversity in Retail.

The report comes with a caveat that only 32% of eligible companies across all sectors reported their gender pay gaps as at 31 May 2021 as the Government gave employers six months extra to report due to Covid.

Moreover, the retail sector was more likely than the hospitality, travel and leisure [HTL] sector to report – 36% compared to 19% of eligible companies reported. This is likely to be because of the more consistent impact of Covid on the HTL sector.

Based on analysis by PwC, the report found low pay gaps in the retail sector – the mean pay gap [the difference between the average hourly pay of men and the average hourly pay of women] fell from 11.4% in 2019 to 9.9% while the median pay gap [the difference between the hourly pay of the middle full-time male worker full-pay and the hourly pay of the middle full-time female worker] was up slightly from 4.3% to 5%. The median bonus gap was down from 22.6% to 18.7%. The report says the low pay gaps are due to the large workforces of many retailers and similarities in pay levels for the (prevalent) junior roles, which are often well balanced between men and women.

Over 50% of staff work in shop floor or distribution roles and median gaps and there have been a string of high-profile equal pay cases which aim to determine whether the roles of predominantly female shop floor workers and predominantly male distribution centre staff are considered of equal value. The report warns that employers should monitor these developments and ensure they are confident they can justify any differences in pay between certain roles.

It also highlights how, post-lockdown, a company’s focus on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) will be increasingly important, particularly in relation to rising inequality as a result of the pandemic, and it says that this will require a long-term strategy. It states: “Transparency and reporting on gender and other diversity characteristics is one of the clearest signals that businesses can make to show that they are committed to driving change and holding themselves to account.”

Tea Colaianni, Founder & Chair, WiHTL – Diversity in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure and Diversity in Retail, said: “It is crucially important to continue to focus on transparency, reporting and meaningful action to address some of the inequalities that existed prior to the pandemic and have been exacerbated since. Every step, however small, can contribute to making a significant difference in closing pay inequalities and advancing the broader diversity and inclusion agenda in HTL and retail.”

WiHTL – Diversity in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure’s interim report on hospitality, travel and leisure, published earlier in the month, noted some worrying trends, with an increase in the average gender pay gaps for the first time in three years, with 25% of companies reporting a gap above 14.7%. This may in part be due to who lost their job or went on furlough during the pandemic. There was also limited progress in the most senior and junior roles. The report says: “The pay gap continues to reflect the fact that across HTL there are far more men than women in the best paid senior positions and technical roles, and far more women in lower paid jobs.”

The average HTL company had 61% males in the highest paid 25% of their workforce, but 54% females in the lowest paid 25% which means that female jobs are much more likely to be casual and vulnerable to reactionary business decisions, such as furlough, than male roles.

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