GENDER PAY GAP REPORTING 2020/2021

Introduction

At Sofology, we fully embrace the responsibility of providing a workplace that is fair, diverse and committed to treating each and every colleague equally. We are dedicated to ensuring equal pay for male and female colleagues throughout the business, as well as offering the same opportunities to train, develop and thrive in every role. We therefore welcome the opportunity to publish for the fourth year running our review of our Gender Pay Gap and our action plan to improve. 

Understanding The Gender Pay Gap

The Gender Pay Gap is a method of identifying if there are any gaps in pay between men and women by using a set of calculations prescribed by legislation. These figures provide an overview of the gender balance within our business by comparing the mean and median earnings for both sexes, regardless of role or seniority at Sofology. This information will help to identify any room for improvement within the organisation in terms of gender equality and equal opportunities being afforded to both sexes. Gender Pay Gap reporting will enable Sofology to fully review and act upon any gender pay differences across the organisation. 

At Sofology we have a number of roles which have fixed rates of pay, for example; Sales Consultants, Customer Service Advisors, Delivery Bookings Advisors, Van Drivers, Co-Drivers, Warehouse Colleagues and Service Technicians. Men and women are paid equally for these roles and the only difference in earnings would be down to performance, productivity, location, or length of service. More specialist / senior roles do  have a variance of salary which is based solely on an individual’s expertise and qualifications regardless of sex. All roles are benchmarked annually using an independent system.  

Monitoring our Gender Pay data, and more importantly understanding the factors that contribute to the differences will help to begin narrowing our Gender Pay Gap and will inform our longer term strategy to help Sofology become recognised as an environment where women and men are equal, supported and driven to succeed regardless of sex.

Our Results - What is the Gender Pay Gap at  Sofology?

Our Gender Pay Gap figures are based on a relevant workforce of 1106 colleagues with a wide variety of skills primarily across Retail, Support Office and Operations business areas. Our overall colleague ratio is a 64.3% male / 35.7% female which is a slight improvement from our 2018/2019 results which was 65.6% male / 34.4% female. Our future people strategy is committed to achieving a 51% male and 49% female split within the next 12 months.                  

Our mean Gender Pay Gap is 6.8% and our median Gender Pay Gap is 6.1% compared to 5.3% and 4% retrospectively in 2019 / 2020.  The reason behind the increases in gender pay gap are as follows:

Support Office 

The remuneration within our Technology department is the highest within our Support Office. Technical IT roles are highly paid and attract a higher % of male applicants. Sofology is dedicated to recruiting female talent into traditionally male dominated roles within the business to improve the male versus female ratio of colleagues across the whole organisation.

Within our Support Office the largest department by headcount is Customer Service. Customer Service roles are generally lower paid and the department has a 77% predominantly female workforce.  Three salary increases have also taken place over the past three years taking our colleagues from £16,000 to £20,000 per annum full time equivalent. Customer Service were historically National Minimum Wages, however they are now in line with the minimum salary expectation within the business which is £20,000 per annum.  

Retail

Within Retail, the highest volume roles are Sales Consultants, of which there is a  59:41 split between male and female. However our gender split has improved from 60/40 in 2019/2020 and 67:33 in 2018/2019. These roles have a much greater earning potential. 

Swing from previous year:

There are four Company Directors at Sofology and with a 50/50 split. Within the year that is being reported our Chief Operating Officer who is male joined Sofology and impacts this pay data. In addition to this we have grown our Senior Leadership team and have introduced the role of Head of Business Development. This role was also a male appointment. The impact of the aforementioned colleagues is significant in the fact that the mean ratio changes to 5.4% exclusive of these 2 colleagues. However looking ahead, for the year of 2020/2021, the data should improve due to an additional female joining the Senior Leadership Team. 

Our Bonus Pay Gap is 4.6% (mean) and 6.2% (median) compared to -12.2% and -69% retrospectively in 2019 / 2020.

In August 2019 Sofology paid out Company Bonus benefitting most of our Support Office. Within the Support Office function we have large departments that are predominantly male workforces.  Examples of this are departments such as Technology and Operations whom have a large male colleague base which has resulted in the significant bonus swing. Warehouse Assistants within the industry are predominantly male and  also represent 100% at Sofology.  Due to these colleagues in both areas receiving a bonus, this has also impacted the results. 

In the year 2019/2020 Sofology did not pay out Company Bonus and therefore the impact was less significant, hence the swing being highlighted as significant within this report.

Our Commitments

Giving everyone access to new career opportunities at Sofology is an integral platform to encourage female internal progression. We have an internal vacancy process, allowing any Sofologist looking for that next step, the opportunity to be alerted when a suitable vacancy becomes available.  

  • In 2017, we introduced the Next Generation programme which is designed to give our  Sofolgists the opportunity to apply for in-house development and support to reach the next steps in their career path, by both male and female colleagues. Our strategy to increase our female Next Generation candidates now means ensuring we have a minimum 50% female representation on each intake. We have seen our female management population increase from 8% of female Store Managers in 2019 to our current position of 27%. 

  • Historically our Next Generation programme has been predominantly Retail focused, therefore during 2018/2019 we introduced a Support Office programme which has seen 63% female colleagues being successful in joining the course. 2021 will see further intakes in both Retail and Support Office, with our commitment to 50/50 representation still actively in place. 

  • All our apprenticeship programmes from January 2020 also have a minimum  50% female intake. This is particularly important as the areas targeted with the apprenticeship programmes are often areas of significant under representation of female colleagues e.g. Technology and Service Technicians. Our second intake of Technology Apprentices have seen another 50:50 gender split. We are also planning our third intake due to the success of the scheme and a key initiative for 2021 is to review further departments whereby there is under representation to introduce further cohorts. 

  • Our Wellbeing agenda at Sofology is another area of our strategy to support more females joining the business. Campaigns focused around family health for all are a key part of 2021 initiatives including dedicated support for both male and  female health and wellness.

  • Our Inclusion strategy is dedicated to our people with the aim of informing, educating and engaging colleagues with topics surrounding Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. Regular internal quarterly campaigns continue to drive this agenda and also supports our external messaging around Sofology being a fair and diverse employer.

  • We continue to work closely with Work 180 which is a Talent Forum that is an endorsed employer for women. This will continue to support us in the attraction of females to our business and we have utilised their services to build more diverse selection pools for Senior roles. We also held a one day recruitment development workshop for hiring Managers with a dedicated section on recruiting inclusively. 

  • We have introduced a new applicant tracking system as our candidate application tool which facilitates blind recruitment. This ensures an unconscious bias arena for attraction of all new talent.

  • We have continued to revise our Career Tracker process based on feedback from our Colleague Engagement Survey, that our Sofologists wanted higher quality conversations around their progression in the organisation.

  • In 2021 our commitment and lessons from the pandemic have supported us in being able  to offer more flexible ways of working as we recognise this is a key opportunity for us. This includes working from home or compressed hours. We believe this will support our strategy to attract more females to the business.  We have also started to measure and target departments where there is a high fulltime base such as OMNI Sales, it is hoped that this will help attract more females. 

  • We continue to drive a better part time mix within our Retail Stores and have a current mix of 24.2% working part time. Our focus for 2021 is to have a mix of part time colleagues across 70% of our Retail Estate which will increase the part time percentage even more.

  • We have communicated our new bonus targets for 2020 / 2021 to Directors, Heads of Departments and other leaders. Most Senior Leaders including key stakeholders have gender split as part of their bonus target (this depends on the size of their department / team), the aim is to increase females in senior positions and ensure our Leaders are focused on an inclusive and diverse workforce. 

  • Our values are the fabric of our business, and guide our approach to deliver our diversity and inclusion strategy. We will carry out further work to fully understand how we can address imbalances. Our commitments will ensure our business is not only stronger, but also truly represents our customers and the communities in which we work.

View last year's Gender Pay Gap Report here.

View 2019's Gender Pay Gap Report here.

View 2018's Gender Pay Gap Report here.