Co-op publishes socioeconomic pay gap report in UK retailer first

Co-op has become the first UK retailer to publish a socioeconomic pay gap report, highlighting the difference in pay between colleagues from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

Having collected voluntary data from 48% of its 57,000 colleagues across the UK between April 2023 and April 2024, the convenience retailer found that it has a mean pay gap of 5.2% between colleagues from a lower and higher socioeconomic background.

It discovered that colleagues from a lower socioeconomic background are less likely to progress into more senior positions, compared to their counterparts from the professional (or higher) background category. Meanwhile, female colleagues from lower socioeconomic backgrounds face the biggest pay gap.


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In response to the report, Co-op is doubling down on its Social Mobility Plan, which includes campaigning for the government to make socioeconomic background the 10th protected characteristic under the 2010 Equality Act.

The grocer has also committed to deliver more mentoring programmes, financial wellbeing support and an intersectionality development programme to help address barriers affecting multiple characteristics, such as background and gender.

To improve insights of future reports, Co-op has set a target of collecting 80% of colleague data on the topic over the next 12 months.

Co-op group CEO Shirine Khoury-Haq said: “This is a truthful report of our business and even though there is work to be done, I am proud that we are the first retailer to have carried out this research. It shows clearly that socioeconomic background, as a factor, can have a significant impact on progression and performance, but its influence on a person’s career is often overlooked by employers.

“For Co-op, establishing this annual reporting process forms a crucial part of our commitment to making a difference to issues that our own member owners care about.

“By holding ourselves accountable and outlining the steps we will take to address inequality within our business we hope to inspire long-lasting change at a societal level, so that everyone can thrive no matter their background.”

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