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 ensure equal pay for male and female colleagues throughout the business, and a key part of this is our commitment to create a more gender-balanced workforce where we employ and retain more women, so they can thrive at all levels across our business. Offering the same opportunities to train, develop and thrive in every role is part of our key strategy and therefore we welcome the opportunity to publish for the fifth 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 room for improvement within the organisation in terms of gender representation 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.

For 2021/2022 reporting submission Sofology had a number of roles which have fixed rates of pay, for example; Sales Consultants, Customer Service colleagues, Drivers, Co-Drivers, Warehouse colleagues and Service Technicians. Men and women were 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 gender.

Monitoring our Gender Pay data, and more importantly understanding the factors that contribute to the differences, has and will continue to support us in narrowing our Gender Pay Gap. This will also 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 gender.

It is worth noting that on the 1st May 2021 our Operations arm of the business transferred to a new Group Company named the Sofa Delivery Company, this will impact our future Gender Pay Gap reporting given this cohort was predominately male.

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

Our Gender Pay Gap figures are based on a relevant workforce of 1124 colleagues with a wide variety of skills primarily across Retail, Support Office and Operations business areas. Our overall colleague ratio is a 63% male / 37% female which is a slight improvement from our 2021 submission which was 64.3% male / 35.7% female. Our future people strategy is committed to achieving a 51% male and 49% female split by June 2024.

Our mean Gender Pay Gap is 1.2% and our median Gender Pay Gap is 1.3% compared to 6.8% and 6.1% retrospectively in 2019 / 2020. The reason behind the decreases in gender pay gap are as follows:

Summary of the swing from the previous year:

When reviewing both base salary and bonus payments for the relevant date range it is pertinent to know that Sofology’s Coronavirus Absence Scheme resulted in fluctuations of pay that has affected the overall mean and median pay. Sofology paid 80% of a colleagues base pay if they were absent due to COVID-19, this included temporary Store closures from April 2019. Due to this scheme, it has resulted in a large percentage of colleagues being affected by varying pay amounts. Retail colleagues were mostly impacted by the scheme of which are generally higher earning males. The date range resulted in over 40% of the headcount being removed from the gender pay gap calculation for the reasoning of reduced pay during the relevant pay period. Females saw a bigger impact with 47% being removed against 38% of men.

As well as the technicalities addressed above, Sofology have also made some positive steps in addressing our gender pay gap / female representation such as:

  • Introducing our Next Generation programme in 2017 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 we are dedicated to 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 41.7%.

  • Our Internal Management Development Scheme, otherwise known as Next Generation continues to be a main driver in the company's internal succession plan. During the gender pay gap reporting range, we saw a 61% female representation which in turn will continue to support us in increasing our percentage of female managers within Sofology.

  • All our Apprenticeship programmes from January 2020 also have a minimum 50% female intake, during the reporting year Sofology achieved 67% female representation. 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 to expand our Apprenticeship offering in 2022 to other areas of the business such as Marketing and Support Office technical departments, Retail is also under consideration.

  • 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 2022 initiatives including dedicated support for both male and female health and wellness. Our menopause initiative was introduced in 2021 in collaboration with Peppy Health and Henpicked to support our female population via dedicated health and wellbeing support when experiencing the menopause. Our external providers have been a huge part in facilitating our training and awareness to all colleagues and the successful launch of our menopause advocate scheme. We will see further initiatives in 2022 offering help in areas such as fertility, pregnancy and baby loss. All strong additions to our current proposition in balancing pay.

  • 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.

  • In 2022 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 hybrid working and compressed hours. We believe this will support our strategy to attract more females to the business.

  • We continue to drive a better part time mix across the entire business. Our current mix in Retail of 38.4% working part time has considerably moved forwards and our focus for 2022 is to have a part time mix of 50%. The Support Office has also moved forwards, the percentage of part time colleagues has doubled within the last 12 months to 10% with an aim of 20% in 2022.

  • We have communicated our Group People strategy for 2021 / 2022 to Directors, Heads of Departments and other leaders. This shares the Group vision in respect of inclusion and diversity at Sofology.

  • During the relevant pay period, a female Regional Manager joined Sofology, traditionally these positions were held by men. We will continue to increase our female Store management population year on year.

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 2021's Gender Pay Gap Report here.