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New Look and White Stuff gender pay in the spotlight

New Look, John Lewis and White Stuff are among the latest batch of retailers to disclose higher hourly pay rates for male employees, according to the latest government data on gender pay.

At New Look, the mean hourly rate was 30% lower for women in 2017 than it was for men – 20.9% lower on a median basis.

New Look explained that 82% of its employees work in stores, 91% of whom are female, while its senior support centres employ more men than women.

The retailer said: “Most of our retail roles are sales advisor positions, which are lower paid than management roles. This means we have a large number of women in lower paid jobs. We believe the sales advisor positions are particularly appealing to female applicants, in part due to the flexibility in work patterns.

“On top of this, like many companies we have a higher number of men than women in our more senior support centres positions. Together with the large number of women working in the lower paid, more flexible roles, this results in our gender pay gap.”

New Look stressed that when data about support centre and warehouse employees is removed from the calculations, there was a 7.8% mean gender pay gap for retail.

It added: “Considering our calculations include around 15,000 employees - many of whom are longstanding - we know that change will not be immediate. However, we will continue striving to help develop our talented female employees, enabling them to progress through our business from sales advisors up to the most senior managers.”

White Stuff faced a similar issue after reporting that its mean hourly rate was 30% lower for its female employees in 2017, and it logged a median percentage of 10%. Women make up 87% of its employees, with the majority of roles in shops.

White Stuff said: “The current make-up of senior roles at our head office shows a higher proportion of men to women in some higher paid roles. We know that numbers don’t always tell the whole story, but we’re confident that the men and women who work for us are being paid equally for doing equivalent jobs, whatever they do.”

John Lewis has meanwhile said its mean hourly pay gap of 13.9% was “largely [driven] through [male partners] being underrepresented at our most junior level and overrepresented in the most senior or highly paid roles and functions”.

Other retailers to disclose lower hourly earnings for female employees included Vivienne Westwood, where the mean hourly rate for female staff was 9% lower; Hugo Boss’s UK operations, where the equivalent rate was 7.2% lower; Diesel’s UK arm, where earnings were 6% lower; and Lacoste UK, which had a 1.2% lower rate.

To date, Phase Eight is one of the companies so far that has posted the largest gender pay gap.

Moss Bros, however, bucked the trend after revealing its hourly rate for female employees was 1.6% higher than that of its male staff.

All businesses with more than 250 staff are legally required to report their gender pay disparity to the government by 4 April this year.

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