Gender Pay Gap Report 2018

About HSL

HSL has been providing customers with comfort through its high quality, handmade furniture for more than 50 years.  Over our lifetime our group has developed and grown, but what has never changed are our passions for delivering comfort and enhancing lives. We’re still family-run, we continue to hold traditional values in our hearts, and we remain dedicated to providing a caring service and excellent value for money for our customers and a supportive, inclusive and enjoyable working environment for our diverse workforce.

What Is Gender Pay Gap Reporting?

Since April 2018 all organisations with more than 250 employees have been required to report statistics indicating their gender pay gap, both 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, as part of its commitment 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 group’s retail subsidiary – as this is the only group company with more than 250 employees. It is based on actual figures measured at a Snapshot Date of 5th April 2018, and reflects 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 Date (the Relevant Pay Period);
  2. The percentage difference in median (mid-point) hourly pay between men and women during the Relevant Pay Period;
  3. The percentage difference in the mean bonus between men and women during the Relevant Pay Period;
  4. The percentage difference in the median bonus between men and women during the Relevant Pay Period;
  5. The percentage of men and women respectively who received a bonus during the Relevant Pay Period; and
  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 HSL’s gender pay gap is lower than the UK average of 17.9% (Office for National Statistics, ASHE Survey 2018) 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, equally as importantly, we will continue to seek ways – including listening to feedback from our colleagues – on the further actions we can take to increase diversity and inclusivity across the business.

 HSL’s Gender Pay Data
Gender Pay

We collected our gender pay gap data on 5th April 2018 when our workforce consisted of 273 women and 119 men. A gender pay gap exists in most organisations – the Office for National Statistics’ Survey in October 2018 reported a national average of 17.9% across all workers. HSL’s figures show a mean pay gap of 30%; and a median pay gap – the method used by the ONS in its reporting – of 9.5%. This has improved from the 2017 median figure of 12.4%.

The existence of a gender pay gap does not necessarily mean that there is unequal pay for equivalent roles and there are a number of reason why organisations’ reports might show a gender pay gap:

  • Women are often under-represented in senior roles where remuneration is higher;
  • Although employers continue to implement flexible working practices to support working parents, women still remain more likely to take career breaks to start a family or have primary childcare responsibilities; and
  • 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.

Although HSL is committed to being an equal opportunity employer, as with many retailers we have a large proportion of female employees working within our stores and our Home Visits operation. These roles often work on a part time model which gives a larger headcount in this area of our business.  Furthermore, these roles, for which we benchmark salaries against other retailers, can be paid at lower rates compared to other roles within the organisation.

48% of HSL’s workforce (189 colleagues) work as Comfort Specialists in our retail channel and 80% (152) of these are female. The high percentage of female colleagues in this role gives us a lower median average rate of pay for women.

The rate of growth in the National Living Wage, which is running ahead of general inflationary pay increases, will continue to increase the rate of pay of our lowest paid employees and reduce the gaps between different roles in the organisation. This is reflected in this year’s median pay gap which has fallen by 2.9 percentage points.

HSL encourages flexible working across all levels and all roles, enabling colleagues to balance their career with their family and personal commitments. We believe this will have a positive impact on the gender pay gap by reducing the need for people to take career breaks when starting a family or when they have primary childcare responsibilities.

There is a higher percentage of women in every quartile; however, having a predominantly female workforce means that even small fluctuations in the mix of gender at each level can have a significant impact on our gender pay gap. Specifically this year, the increase in the proportion of men in the lower quartile has partly reduced the reported gender pay gap.

HSL has an 80% representation of men at board level and this means the gender pay gap is largely concentrated in the upper pay quartile.

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 1% in favour of women. 43% of HSL’s senior management team (excluding the board of directors) are women.

87.2% of women and 80.5% of men were paid a bonus in the Relevant Pay Period. The mean bonus gap was 31.8% (2018: 77.9%) and the median bonus gap was 23.4% (2018: 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 operation 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 overall group financial performance, and are paid annually as a percentage of total pay.

HSL continues to standardise bonus schemes across all areas of operation, which will continue to reduce the bonus gap, as well as improving equality across the organisation. No bonus was paid to directors in 2018 this has significantly reduced both pay gap measures in comparison to 2017.

Director Statement

Although we are proud of HSL’s passion for equality and diversity across the organisation, and our reported gender pay gap continues to reduce, the data presented in this statement demonstrates that male colleagues still 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% comprised of 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

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