Despite cooperatives’ history of commitment to values of social progress, our recent study of the General Manager Compensation Database reveals that grocery co-op General Managers who identify as female are paid significantly less than their male counterparts.

We’ll be sharing our findings over the coming year, but our work doesn’t end in bringing this to light. Launched in early 2021, the Gender Equity Project aims to serve as a call to action for all co-ops who value social justice in their communities and the world at large.

What We Know Right Now

Our study of pay inequity was based on the General Manager Compensation Database, which was created in 2010 to facilitate the anonymous sharing of compensation information among GMs. At the time, a question about gender was added to the database out of sheer curiosity. At the same time, there were also concerns that GMs who identified as people of color would not be provided anonymity by the almost entirely white dataset. There was a similar anonymity concern about gender identity.

Although our current data merely scratches the surface of uncovering the deep societal bias and structural inequities that are being mirrored in our very own co-ops, it illuminates vast pay inequality between grocery co-op general managers who identified as men and women.

  • At every level of sales volume, female GMs make significantly less than male GMs. This trend, first identified in 2016, has not improved; the disparities have only grown overtime.

  • Gender representation in the position of General Manager was roughly equal among the small, medium, and large co-op groups. However, extra large co-ops in this self-reported dataset were twice as likely to have male General Managers.
2022 Average Total Compensation

What’s Next?

The disturbing trends in our current dataset poignantly highlight the need for better information to measure our progress on the long journey towards a more just and equitable world.

Columinate is upgrading the compensation database to capture other critical information on race and gender identity, and to expand the data set to include other senior leadership positions. As leaders look to the future with hope for societal change, this data will be helpful to organizations focused on addressing structural inequities.

How Can I Join Columinate on the journey towards pay equity?

  • Reflect on your own co-op’s data. What are the powerful questions and issues about inequity in our sector that remain unanswered and unsolved?
  • Read up on The Gender Equity Project. Learn more about the project by reading our collection of library articles below.
  • Make sure your data counts. Sign-up for the Columinate Compensation Database.

Compensation Database: History and Future

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The Compensation Database is woefully out of date when it comes to gender and equity identifiers. Columinate is creating a new version scheduled to be introduced in April 2021. Here's what features will be added to improve the database.

For more information about The Gender Equity Project, click below to reach out.

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