Co-op reports 5.2% mean socio-economic pay gap

Co-op socio-economic pay gapRetailer Co-op has reported a mean pay gap of 5.2% between its employees from a lower and higher socio-economic background.

For its first socio-economic pay gap report, the employer collected voluntary data from 48% of its 57,000 UK employees between April 2023 and April 2024. It used the Social Mobility Commission’s method to measure socio-economic background.

A total of 39.7% of employees were identified as being from a higher socio-economic background, while 46.6% were from a lower one.

The report also found that its median socio-economic pay gap was 0.2%. Staff from a lower socio-economic background were less likely to progress into senior positions compared to those from higher backgrounds, while female staff from lower ones have the biggest pay gap.

In response, Co-op has doubled down on its social mobility plan, and committed to delivering more mentoring programmes, financial wellbeing support and an intersectionality development programme to help address socioeconomic background and gender barriers. This will be underpinned by its employee social mobility taskforce.

It has also set a target of collecting 80% of socio-economic data over the next 12 months, higher than its current rate of 72%.

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Shirine Khoury-Haq, chief executive officer of the Co-op Group, 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 socio-economic 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.”