Phase Eight under fire for gender pay gap

Womenswear retailer Phase Eight has emerged as one of the UK companies with the biggest gender pay gaps, with female employees paid on average 64.8% per hour less than men, according to data released under new government rules.


Phase Eight

The British clothing specialist, which sells embellished occasionwear dresses and casualwear pieces for women, was one of the 527 companies announcing their pay gap data this weekend.

Companies including EasyJet, Virgin Money, the Co-Operative Bank and the BBC ranked in the top 20 for biggest gaps, with Phase Eight taking the top spot.

In a statement published on the brand’s website, Phase Eight CEO Benjamin Barnett defended its results, saying the figures are “misleading” and fail to tell “the true story” as the majority of its store staff are women while men work mainly in its head office.

“Whilst on first glance, our published gender pay gap figures suggest the average man has a higher hourly rate of pay, than the average female, this is misleading and does not reflect the true story and culture within the Phase Eight business,” wrote Barnett.

“The figures result from the fact that, as a women’s fashion retailer, the staff in our stores are overwhelmingly female, whilst our corporate head office staff (whose pay rates are typically higher) are more evenly split between men and women.

“This will cause significant disparity across our results where this imbalance is not taken into consideration. Similar issues will apply to other organisations in the women’s fashion retail sector.”

The clothing company said 1,710 employees out of its 1,754-strong workforce are women, including 47% of its senior leadership team. And it highlighted that women accounted for 88% of all internal promotions in the past 12 months.

More companies are expected to announce their gender pay gap data in the coming weeks. Companies with more than 250 employees are required to publish their annual figures under new rules.

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