Gender Pay Gap Report

HSL is a family business, which has fairness as a core value.

We are an equal opportunity employer, championing inclusiveness, equality and diversity. We target fair pay and reward at every level in the organisation.

About HSL

 For almost 50 years the HSL Chairs group of companies has been providing customers with comfort through its high quality, handmade furniture. The group is a manufacturer and retailer of furniture; and also provides seating consultation, customer services, home delivery services and aftercare. Such varied operations require a diverse workforce; and this, coupled with HSL’s family ownership, mean that inclusiveness, equality and diversity are central to our values.

What is gender pay gap reporting?

From April 2018 all organisations with more than 250 employees are required to report statistics indicating their gender pay gap on a government website and their own website. The gender pay gap represents the difference between male and female mean and median pay across the whole business.

This is an initiative led by the UK government, which has committed to improving transparency of pay differentials between men and women and tackling gender equality issues.

The information reported in this summary relates to High Seat Limited – the HSL Chairs group of companies’ retail subsidiary. It is based on actual figures measured at a Snapshot Date of 5th April 2017, and reflects upon the following six data sets:

  1. The percentage difference in mean (average) hourly pay between male and female employees for the twelve months ending on the Snapshot Data
  2. The percentage difference in median (mid-point) hourly pay between men and women during the previous twelve months
  3. The percentage difference in the mean bonus between men and women during the previous twelve months
  4. The percentage difference in the median bonus between men and women during the previous twelve months
  5. The percentage of men and women respectively who received a bonus during the previous twelve months
  6.  The percentage of men and women in each hourly rate pay quartile, split evenly across the workforce, reported by lower, lower middle, upper middle, and upper bands

Whilst we are pleased that that HSL’s gender pay gap is lower than the UK average of 18.4% (Office for National Statistics, ASHE Survey 2017) gender pay is a complex topic and cannot be assessed with simple statistics alone.

We will continue to measure and publish our Gender Pay figures each year; but as importantly, we will continue to seek ways – including listening to feedback from our colleagues – on the actions we can continue to take to increase diversity and inclusivity across the business.

HSL’s gender pay data


We collected our gender pay gap data on 5th April 2017 when our workforce consisted of 240 women and 108 men.

A gender pay gap exists in most organisations – the Office for National Statistics’ Survey in October 2017 reported a national average of 18.4% (across all workers).

HSL’s figures show a mean pay gap of 31%; and a median pay gap – the method used by the ONS to report on the gender pay gap – of 12.4%.

The existence of a gender pay gap does not necessarily mean unequal pay for equivalent roles. There are a number of reasons why organisations might generally report a gender pay gap:

  1. Women are often under-represented in senior roles where remuneration is higher;
  2. Women are more likely to take career breaks to start a family or have primary childcare responsibilities; and
  3. Some sectors have a higher proportion of part-time, entry level roles, which can attract a higher proportion of women because of the additional lifestyle flexibility this affords.

Whereas HSL is an equal opportunity employer, in common with most retailers we have a large proportion of female employees working as Comfort Specialists in our retail operations. These roles often work on a part time model which gives a larger headcount in this area of our business. Furthermore, these roles, which we benchmark salaries for against other retailers, tend to be paid at lower rates compared to other roles.

49% of HSL’s workforce (171 colleagues) are employed as a Comfort Expert and 79% (135) of these are female.

The high percentage of female colleagues in this role gives us a lower median average female rate of pay.

Although we have historically paid above the National Living Wage for Comfort Experts; the rate of growth in the National Living Wage, which is running ahead of general inflationary pay increases, will continue to increase Comfort Specialists rate of pay and reduce the gap between Comfort Specialists and other roles in the organisation.

There is a higher percentage of women in every quartile, however, having a predominantly female workforce means that even small fluctuations in the male workforce can have a significant impact on our gender pay gap. For example, if we were to have a female, instead of a male, Chief Executive Officer, the overall mean gender pay gap would drop from 31% to 21%.

Similarly, based on how the gender pay gap is calculated, if HSL were to employ more men in the lower paid grade quartiles, while keeping the overall number of staff constant, this would act to reduce the gender pay gap.

In considering gender pay across similar roles there is a much narrower gap, which in some cases is in favour of women. For example HSL’s senior management team has a mean average gender gap of 16% in favour of women. 42.9% of HSL’s senior management team (excluding the board of directors) are women.

85.5% of women and 76.5% of men were paid a bonus in the Relevant Pay Period. The mean bonus gap was 77.9% and the median bonus gap was 47.8%. In both cases the bonus gap is impacted by the basis of calculation, which uses the actual bonus paid, and does not adjust for the impact of part time working. If account was taken of the impact of bonuses which are pro-rated for part time hours worked, the bonus gap would reduce.

Furthermore, in our retail operations where there is the highest concentration of female employees, different bonus structures are used to reward staff, with a heavier weighting towards store performance. In other areas of the organisation, bonuses are discretionary and paid dependant on company performance, and are paid annually as a percentage of total pay.

HSL is moving towards standardisation of bonus schemes across all areas of operation, which will continue to reduce the bonus gap over time, as well as improving equality across the organisation.

Director Statement

Although we are proud of HSL’s passion for equality and diversity across the organisation, the gender pay gap shown in this report demonstrates that male colleagues receive a higher average pay rate. This reflects women being heavily overrepresented in our lower paid functions, and men being more equally represented at the most senior levels and functions, including a board of directors which is 80% represented by men.

We will continue to focus on development opportunities across the business to allow all colleagues to fulfil their potential and progress development opportunities wherever available.

I confirm that the information within this report is accurate.


William Burrows, Chairman

What our customers say about us

  • Excellent customer service. The staff were very helpful and nothing was too much trouble.

    Mrs. A Richardson

  • My elderley mother was treated with great respect and kindness by Garth. He explained everything about the chair and bed to us and was a credit to the company. She purchased both a bed and chair and we are delighted with the service that received.

    J Patterson

  • Very precise and helped us to decide what chair was right for me. I am delighted with it. Its very comfortable and easy to get out of. Thank you for all of your help.

    Jean Woodall

  • The chair is wonderful, can't wait for a comfy evening in, but wanted to thank you first. Great, would recommend you to anyone.

    Mrs S M Bridges

  • When I purchased my riser recliner the service was tremendous and the staff all superb.

    Mrs. W

  • My adjustable bed from HSL is a godsend. I’ve now purchased a riser recliner too!

    Mrs. Rogers

  • We purchased a three seater sofa and two recliners. The staff were very helpful, nothing was too much trouble. They were very cheerful and showed us the full range of suites and explained all features.

    Mrs. Carter

  • Staff very nice, friendly and helpful in all ways. A very nice store to visit - explained how chairs worked and I came away with a lovely chair and sofa. Thank you.

    M Williams

Read more customer testimonials