REVEALED: The gender pay gap of the biggest jewellery firms in the UK

The gender pay gap between women and men in the UK jewellery retail industry is bigger than the UK average.

Professional Jeweller and sister publication WatchPro has researched the UK’s eleven largest groups: Aurum Holdings, Signet Jewelers, Beaverbrooks, Fraser Hart, Swarovski, TH Baker, Thomas Sabo F.Hinds, Pandora, Chisholm Hunter and Tiffany & Co. Collectively, the groups employ over 9,000 people.

On average, across all UK groups, the gender pay gap in 2017 was 24.9%.

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The UK average gender pay gap for companies employing 250 or more people is 19.3%.

The mean gender pay gap is a measure of the difference between women’s mean hourly wage and men’s mean hourly wage across an entire workforce.

Chisholm Hunter has the lowest gender pay gap of just 4.3%, closely followed by Swarovski at 4.7%. Pandora has the highest gap at 71.9%, with F Hinds’ 36.2% gap being the second largest.

“We are incredibly proud that Chisholm Hunter does not have any notable gender pay gap. Our business has always been based on a meritocracy and I guess that these newly published figures go some way in reinforcing the fact that Chisholm Hunter rewards are based on merit rather than any sort of entitlement,” says Harry Brown, managing director of Chisholm Hunter.

Signet Jewelers, the parent company of Ernest Jones and H.Samuel and the UK’s largest employer with a workforce of around 2600, has a gender pay gap of 20.4%, just above the national average but below the average of the major retail jeweller groups tracked by WatchPro and Professional Jeweller.

A statement accompanying the report of Signet’s data co-signed by UK executive director Emma Hayward and UK finance director Shaun Carney says that all employees doing the same job are paid equally.

“We believe that the pay gap is the result of the make-up of our workforce. We are confident that men and women are paid on equal terms for doing the same or similar jobs across the business,” the statement says.

Signet does suggest that it can narrow the gender pay gap. “Our goal is to have a more even gender distribution across the organisation and for women to progress to senior and more highly-paid positions in some of our Stores’ Support Centre departments/grades and highest turnover stores,” the statement continues.

The government’s Gender Pay Gap Service also asks employers to provide details of women and men receiving bonuses on top of their hourly pay. 58% of Signet’s female employees and 48% of men received bonuses. On average, men’s bonuses were 58% higher than for women.

“Our bonus gap is largely due to the fact that only two Store Support Centre teams received a bonus (our District and Regional Managers and in-store watchmakers) during the time period, and there are currently more men than women in these populations. It is also impacted by the gender make-up of the small number of senior team members who received a long-term incentive payment,” Signet explains.

Pandora, which has the highest gender pay gap of 71.9% among the business we tracked, says the gap has been calculated from a data snapshot taken during April 2017, and does not reflect the full year of 2017. According to the jewellery giant, the high pay gap in the timeframe measured is mainly due to extraordinary remuneration payments that only occurred in that period, and excluding those payments gives a mean gender pay gap of 18.82%.

“It is important to note that the gender pay gap statistics do not take into account that store employees are our largest employee group, where more than 90% are women. In office functions where we typically have higher pay levels, we have more even distribution of gender. Mathematically this causes a skewed calculation of gender pay gap, which does not reflect that we pay equal salaries for equal jobs,” Pandora’s UK managing director, Brien Winther, write in a public statement, adding: “In addition we also have a high percentage of women working on a part time basis, which affects our gender bonus gap.”

The jewellery giant reported a gender pay bonus gap of 91.6%. Pandora attributes this to having a high percentage of women working on a part time basis.

F.Hinds, which recorded the second largest gender pay gap, says it pays women and men the same when they perform the same role. “There is a pay gap that is driven by how our teams are structured,” the company says in an online statement.

“F.Hinds is 77% female, with the majority of all the roles in our shops. We offer flexibility across our teams with full time and part time roles that offer a work life balance. These provide the potential for career progression. We are proud that most of our managers started with the company in more junior positions and have made a career progression,” the statement continues.

“The majority of our most senior branch managers are men. In order to progress their careers many have relocated when a senior position has become available. Due to personal circumstances, comparatively few women have relocated when offered these senior positions. In recent years the number of female managers has increased,” F.Hinds concludes.

Aurum Holdings, which employs over 2000 people in the UK, has a gender pay gap of 27%, the third largest gap among the seven groups we researched.

A statement from the group’s chief executive, Brian Duffy, says that the company believes in fairness and equality and, “In recent years we have taken steps to allocate our salary review budget disproportionately to the lower paid members of our teams”.

In a detailed analysis of Aurum Holdings’ gender pay gap data, Mr Duffy states: “We have no meaningful differential between pay for women and men who are doing the same jobs. However, in common with many businesses in the UK, a higher proportion of our senior roles are held by men and this has resulted in a gender pay  gap  which is just slightly ahead of the UK average.

“This is due to the fact some of our more highly paid roles are in the support centres in London and Leicester and nearly three quarters of our team work in our showrooms and  stores.  65%  of our retail colleagues  are women,  many of whom are attracted  by the wide range of flexible working options that we are able to offer.

“When we looked at our top 50 jobs in the company overall and in the retail division, the pay gap  narrows considerably  which reassures  us that men and women are being equally and fairly treated — although we still have opportunities to support a better gender balance at the top of the organisation.

“However the mix of senior roles in our company is changing. Three years ago we had no female Area Managers and now more than half of our Goldsmiths Area Managers are women and this is also the same with our Goldsmiths showroom and store management teams. Our seven strong Executive team includes two women which at 28% is close to the 30% target set by the government a few years ago.

“We are pleased with our progress in appointing women to senior positions in the organisation and as leaders in our showrooms and stores however we are not complacent. It will take time to close the gender pay gap in our business and across the retail sector but we are committed to playing our part in doing so,” Mr Duffy concludes.

Beaverbrooks, the only company with a female managing director, Anna Blackburn, has the second lowest gender pay gap of 9.5%.

Ms Blackburn, and her chairman Mark Adlestone, take pride in promoting Beaverbrooks as one of the best companies to work for in the UK, and have been recognised for many years as one of the country’s top 100 employers.

She says that there are no barriers to progression for women. “At Beaverbrooks all our colleagues are treated equally and are given the same opportunities regardless of their gender. We actively encourage people to return to work after having a family, adapting working patterns where we can to ensure a positive work-life bal­ance.”

Beaverbrooks has the highest percentage of women in the highest quartile of earners in the company, with 73% women. “Ten years ago, there were three females in the senior management team and now there are 10,” Ms Blackburn says.

It will come as no surprise to learn that the British retail jeweller industry is dominated by female employees. With the exception of the top quartile of earners, 80% of employees are female. In the top quartile of earners, only 59% of employees are men.

T.H. Baker, which has a gender pay gap of 30%, says the gap is due to men and women having different roles within the company. When the company analysed like-for-like comparisons, it concluded: “TH Baker is proud to say that all female staff are paid 100% of their male equivalents when doing the same role”.

Fashion jewellery brand Thomas Sabo has a pay gap of 26.2%, which is just above the average of the companies tracked in this report. The brand says this gap is driven by how its teams are structured.

Thomas Sabo people director, Melissa Boyd, shares: “We believe it is important to understand that the pay gap is much less significant in the largest part of our business; our stores. We have found no inconsistency between how we pay men and women for the same role but there is a pay gap driven by how our teams are structured.

“Of all our employees, 88% work in stores, and 90% of our store staff are female. The majority of positions within our business are at sales associate level which are paid at a lower rate than other positions within the business in both the store environment and head office. This means we have a large proportion of our female workforce in lower paid jobs. However, we know the sales associate positions are appealing to female applicants as they offer a great deal of flexibility across their working pattern and we are proud that we offer that flexibility across our teams and provide careers in retail with a variety of roles and hours. In contrast, 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.”

Tiffany & Co has a below national average pay gap of 17.3%. The iconic brand says its important to bear in mind that carrying out an assessment of gender pay is different from carrying out an assessment of equal pay, which instead focuses on equal pay for similar work, rather than looking at pay across the company as a whole.

While below the national average, Tiffany & Co has revealed it is looking to reduce this number even further by reviewing its payment practices and pay scales.

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