Marks & Spencer has announced a raft of measures to improve female representation at the top of the business after it became the latest major retailer to reveal its gender pay gap figures.
M&S reported a mean gender pay gap of 12.3 per cent in 2017, while its median gender pay gap – which identifies the earnings of the middle earner – came in at 3.3 per cent.
Meanwhile, the difference in bonuses paid to all male and female employees was 53.4 per cent, with around 75 per cent of female employees receiving a bonus, compared with 66 per cent of men.
M&S said its mean figure was lower than the UK mean of 17.4 per cent and the UK retail average of 16.4 per cent – but conceded more could be done.
“We recognise there is more to do to close the gap – we are focusing on addressing our pipeline of women into senior roles as well as encouraging more flexible working,” M&S said.
Job adverts will now encourage candidates to ask about flexible working to show it was an “important part of [M&S’s] culture”, and an internal campaign will share case studies of male staff participating in job sharing, working part time and taking parental leave.
M&S also said it would improve pathways for women to move into senior roles by continuing to be part of the 30% Club cross-business mentoring programme for women in mid and senior management.
The programme provides one-on-one coaching to prepare women for senior roles, and delivering leadership workshops for line managers of women at those levels.
In addition, M&S said it would focus on departments where gender balance is “more challenging” – such as IT and logistics.
“While it’s positive that our gender pay gap is lower than the UK average, the issues at play are complicated, and we believe it’s much more important to focus on taking meaningful action to drive equality and inclusivity rather than simply the numbers themselves,” M&S head of talent Simmone Haywood said.
“We will continue to annually publish our gender pay figures and report against our goals.
“Most importantly, we actively encourage our colleagues’ ideas and contribution on how we can foster diversity and inclusivity in every aspect of the business.”
M&S’s figures come ahead of the government’s deadline for all companies with over 250 employees to publish their gender pay gap data in April.
Dozens of major retailers including Tesco, John Lewis, Aldi and New Look having already published theirs.
The gender pay gap is different to equal pay, which deals with the pay differences between men and women who carry out the same jobs.