M&S promises flexible working as it reveals double-digit gender pay gap

Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

Marks & Spencer has announced targets to close its gender pay gap as part of its new sustainable programme, Plan A 2025.

The news comes as M&S became the latest retailer to publish its gender pay gap figures ahead of the government’s April deadline.

The company reported a mean gender pay gap of 12.3% in 2017, while its median gender pay gap – which identifies the earnings of the middle earner – stood at 3.3%.

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Like New Look and John Lewis, M&S attributed the gap to the balance of men and women across different job levels, with more women filling lower paid positions.

The overall workforce across stores, distribution and offices – including full time and part time employees – is almost three quarters female, but there are just 67 female senior managers compared to 90 male, and three female board directors compared to seven male.

“We have a high proportion of females in entry level roles – where flexible working is more prevalent and we see more women than men wishing to work part-time,” the retailer said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the difference in bonuses paid to all male and female employees was 53.4% in 2017, with around 75% of female employees receiving a bonus, compared with 66% of men.

As part of the Plan A 2025 initiative, which also includes targets to reduce emissions by 80% and turn the company into a zero-waste business, M&S said it plans to reduce its gender pay gap by “at least 10%” by 2020 and by 25% by 2025 compared to 2017.

By 2022, it also aims to have 50% female and 15% black, Asian and minority ethnic representation on the M&S senior management team.

To achieve these targets, M&S said it will continue to be part of the 30% Club Cross Business Mentoring Programme – providing mentoring support for mid-senior women to help them progress their careers.

“We provide leadership development and 1:1 coaching for mid-career women to prepare them for senior roles, and we’re also delivering inclusive leadership workshops for the line managers of women at this level,” said CEO Steve Rowe.

“We are providing mentoring for women at all levels through our Gender Equality Network, and review our talent and progression data at board level to make sure we are taking action to address our pipeline of talent.”

M&S also plans to encourage an environment where men and women have the opportunity to work flexibly.

“Our job adverts will encourage people to ask us about flexible working,” said Rowe.

“We want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to ask about this and to show it is an important part of our culture,” he continued.

“We will also run an internal campaign to ensure that existing employees know about flexible working and have the opportunity to participate – sharing case studies of male job shares, men working part-time and men taking shared parental leave.”



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