Retail Week ranks the top-performing and most improved UK retailers for gender pay equality.

International Women’s Day took place on March 8 and, to celebrate the work of women and improvements to equality made across retail, Retail Week has created its first gender pay equality ranking.

Gender pay equality reporting looks at discrepancies across an entire business but does not examine salary differences between men and women in like-for-like job roles.

The UK’s top retailers

The Very Group topped Retail Week’s list of the top UK retailers for gender pay equality. The retailer has implemented initiatives such as unconscious bias training, basing salary increases solely on market data and using semantics analysis on its job adverts to increase their appeal to female applicants, all of which have led to a commendable narrowing of its pay gap.

RetailerOverall rankMean pay gapMedian pay gapQuartile gap rank
The Very Group 1 17.2 1.1 1
Fortnum & Mason 2 -2.2 -1.9 2
Oliver Bonas 3 7.2 0.1 106
Tapi Carpets 4 -0.3 -15.1 98
Game 5 0.9 0.3 82
Ocado 6 -0.7 -1.3 101
Argos 7 9.9 4.9 3
boohoo 8 6.9 0 4
Urban Outfitters 9 1.1 9.5 65
Ikea 10 5.9 7.1 6
Co-operative Food 11 22.5 12.1 5
Lidl 12 11 0.5 33
Harrods 13 3.2 -1.7 18
Moss Bros 14 -2.9 0.8 57
Robert Dyas 15 12 4.6 8

The list of the UK’s top retailers by gender pay equality also includes a few surprising names.

One might have expected to see Game, which caters to a hobby stereotypically seen as being male-dominated, at the bottom of the list, but it took fifth place, while Tapi Carpets rolled its way up the board and tacked itself at fourth place.

Fortnum & Mason moved its gender pay gap in the right direction through better support for new mothers returning to work and a higher level of internal promotions, which saw female employees take on more senior roles.

While Ikea admits that traditionally held views of women in work has led to “disproportionate amounts of men in higher-paid jobs”, it is making a concerted effort to address these inequalities at its core.

The global furniture chain is actively working on its gender equality competencies by examining unconscious biases across the organisation and aiming to create gender-inclusive systems to support staff development.

“We run women’s development programmes across the business, looking at the specific challenges that women may face when looking at progression” 

Marion McNally, Sainsbury’s Argos

With Argos coming in at seventh place, Sainsbury’s group head of inclusion Marion McNally outlined improvements the business has made across its grocery, banking and catalogue operations, such as ensuring senior-level position shortlists are diverse and running women’s development programmes across its group.

“We launched the Leading@Sainsbury’s programmes 12 months ago, blending face-to-face and digital learning. We also run women’s development programmes across the business, looking at the specific challenges that women may face when looking at progression,” she said.

Examining its internal promotions, Harrods found that 60% of its employees who took on a new role were women. And, from April 2019, the Knightsbridge department store introduced a new maternity policy, which aims to boost the uptake of shared parental leave, a measure that has a long-term effect on narrowing the pay gap.

The UK’s most improved retailers

Many of those retailers topping the charts for pay equality are also some of the most improved from 2018 to 2019. Lidl, Tapi, The Very Group and Boohoo all made a second showing.

RetailerOverall rankMean pay gapMedian pay gapOverall quartile rank
Uniqlo 44 10.3 2.9 40
MandM Direct 19 25.3 12 9
All Saints 25 10.4 0 12
Footasylum 27 11.3 0 14
Peacocks 28 12.5 0.8 102
The Very Group 1 17.2 1.1 1
Tapi Carpets 4 -0.3 -15.1 98
Iceland 16 13.5 11.8 7
Tesco 26 10.9 8.5 15
TM Lewin 34 19.7 3.1 20
Brighthouse 73 29.7 20.3 34
Lidl 12 11 0.5 33
Harvey Nichols 29 -5.4 -11.7 19
John Lewis 42 12.7 8.2 27
Boohoo 8 6.9 0 4

John Lewis Partnership has worked with the independent Behavioural Insights Team to evaluate the material changes that could be made to support gender equality for its part-time partners, as women continue to represent the majority of these roles.

Changes such as increasing access to mentors, introducing flexible working arrangements and launching new talent development programmes have helped the Partnership take steps in the right direction.

Uniqlo had a small median pay gap of just 2.9, but in its latest report admitted that its mean pay difference suffered due to a significant difference in the level of men and women across pay quartiles. The majority of its store teams are primarily women, whereas its senior teams mostly consist of male employees.



Retail Week’s Be Inspired programme exists to promote diversity and inclusion at all levels across retail and to encourage people to fulfil their career aspirations. 

On June 17, 2020, we bring the programme to life at the Be Inspired conference.

Get your ticket here to join us at The Brewery, London, and hear from a line-up of amazing speakers.