Two colleagues laughing together in an office

Gender pay gap just 1.7% at leading housing association

Sovereign Housing Association’s Executive Board is equally balanced male and female, its Board boasts seven women of 11 members and its gender pay gap is low at 1.7% - but the housing association says it will continue to strive for parity for women.

The organisation - which has 2,000 employees, 44% of whom identify as female - manages or owns 60,000 properties across the south west of England.

With a mean gender pay gap of just 1.7% (a decrease from 4% in 2019-20), compared to a 14.6% average across the UK and a median gender pay gap of 0.6% (which has also improved from 1.8% over the previous year) Sovereign could be said to be doing pretty well for women.

In fact, the organisation’s mean gender pay gap on bonuses, is, this year, 40.6% in favour of women, due to a higher number of women in its contact centre receiving retention bonuses ahead of a move to its new office Sovereign House, in Basingstoke.   

But the organisation wants to do more.

Jerome Williams Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager for Sovereign said: “Although our gender pay gap is much lower than the national average, we’re not complacent. We’re committed to removing obstacles which may deter people from applying for all roles and are actively encouraging greater diversity throughout the organisation.

“Through our new EDI strategy and plan we’re looking to improve recruitment and progression of women throughout Sovereign, improve workplace flexibility, create a gender balance in our workforce at all grades; and increase transparency in our promotion, pay and reward processes.”

Sovereign has set a number of ambitious targets, including achieving 50% men and 50% women gender representation in its Senior Leadership Group and recruiting 7% women to its trades teams, all by 2023.

Jerome continued: “We’ll be asking everyone at Sovereign to play their part and help us in our drive towards gender equity. Our ambition is to build a balanced workforce that’s ready to help with our mission. We’ll be using our new strategy to strengthen our talent pipeline for women at all levels and taking action on potential barriers that may prevent women from progressing to our most senior positions.  

“Research shows that personal development through networks is essential, with 90% of businesses questioned for a 2017 study by Women Ahead saying that developing them was a core priority. That’s why our talent programmes such as our Aspire Programme and our apprenticeship and mentoring schemes are so important to us and we’ll continue to use them to develop and nurture colleagues. We’ve also established a new Gender Network to help ensure everyone at Sovereign is supported and feels included at work.”

You can see the full Gender pay gap report for 2020 here