Asda colleague

Source: Asda

Asda has the smallest mean pay gap of the UK’s 11 biggest grocers

Eight of the UK’s 11 biggest grocers have made progress on closing the gender pay gap, while at Morrisons it increased sharply following the supermarket’s takeover of McColl’s.

Tesco, Asda, Aldi, Lidl, Co-op, John Lewis (including Waitrose), Iceland and Ocado all reduced the mean hourly gap in 2023/24 compared with the previous year. At Sainsbury’s it was static and at M&S it increased by a tenth of a percentage point.

However, at Morrisons it shot from 7.6% to 12.5%, thanks to McColl’s mainly women shopworkers being included in the data for the first time.

It was not enough to prevent the combined average mean gender pay gap across all 11 falling, from 9.8% to 9.5%, according to newly published data from the government’s gender gap service, drawn from retailers’ reports. 

Despite the sharp rise at Morrisons as a result of its 2022 McColl’s takeover, its mean pay gap was not the largest of the 11. That went to Co-op, with a gap of 13.2%, a slight improvement on its 13.4% last year.

“We are committed to treating our colleague member owners fairly, and this includes driving equitable outcomes for female colleagues,” said a Co-op spokesman. “We’ve seen a significant reduction in our gender pay gap since we started to report data in 2017, and this year’s data shows further progress towards closing it. This is partly the result of a huge investment in pay for colleagues in lower-paid roles in 2023.”

He added: “The gender pay gap is caused by us having fewer females in leadership roles, where salaries are higher, and more women represented in our lower-paid roles.

“Our focus on improving representation remains, as we know this is one of the key drivers causing the gender pay gap. Today, 40% of our leadership population are female – this is not enough, which is why we’ve launched a series of development programmes and have a coaching and mentoring offer to support women with career progression.”


However, the Co-op also made backwards progress on women in the top pay quartile, with a fall from 32.4% female to 31.8%.

M&S was also lagging behind the other retailers – including Morrisons – with a mean hourly pay gap of 12.6%.

M&S said the slight increase from last year’s 12.5% was driven by a higher proportion of male customer assistants taking on overtime, night shifts and key-holding responsibilities.

A spokeswoman said: “We’re committed to driving equal opportunities and making M&S a great place to work for women.”

She pointed out M&S’s median pay gap had decreased, from 6.5% to 6.2%.

“Women now make up more than 50% of our UK store management population, but we know there is more to do,” she added. “We’re making progress with the launch of new initiatives, talent programmes, and policies, including our flexible working offer – Worklife, a Job Share Finder, and our industry-leading family leave offer.”

The retailer with the smallest mean pay gap is Asda, at 6.6%, an improvement on its 7.6% last year.

Asda chief people & corporate affairs officer Hayley Tatum said: “We pride ourselves on creating an inclusive culture at Asda where all colleagues can be themselves at work every day.

“While we are pleased with the reduction in our mean gender pay gap year on year, we recognise that pay gaps exist partly because of differences in gender representation at more senior levels of our business. We remain committed to addressing this by helping female colleagues develop and progress their careers at Asda.”