Women in Workplace - Business, Innovation and Skills Committee Contents

8  Conclusion

141.  The recommendations in this Report are founded on the following underpinning conclusions:

  • women comprise over half of the population. As such, a significant amount of public funds are invested in their education. Ensuring that women, as well as men, have the opportunity to realise their maximum potential is therefore as much an economic argument as one about equality.
  • careers advice needs to be more robust—as part of a national careers strategy headed by the Government—enabling women to enjoy careers that have more opportunities and are better paid. Policies need to be put in place to remove historic barriers, cultural or otherwise, in order to enable women to have the opportunity to progress in hitherto male dominated sectors;

men and women having equal pay for jobs of equal worth and having the same working terms and conditions leads to equality within the workplace and within the home;

  • flexible working practices, from the senior management level to the workforce, lead to a more effective use of the available talent pool;
  • increased opportunities for women, in the boardroom (at both executive and non-executive director level) and in the executive team;
  • the more successful companies and organisations are those that nurture their staff at all levels of the workforce, appreciating long-term commitment from both employers and employees;
  • transparency of data—when facts and figures are clear and consistent—leads to an understanding of where inequality arises and how such inequalities can be alleviated.

These conclusions need to be the benchmarks for Government policy and action. While voluntary approaches towards reaching equality of opportunity in the workplace are to be welcomed, more stringent regulation should not be seen only as 'red tape'; it maybe` a necessary part of making businesses and organisations more economically sustainable. The Government has worked hard to promote the interests of women in the highest positions in organisations, and we welcome the Women's Business Council's Report "Maximising women's contribution to future economic growth".[223] It makes the economic case for involving women's participation in the workplace, but it falls short on strong recommendations to rectify the current inequality.

142.  We started this Report with a quote from the Women and Equalities Minister, the Rt Hon Maria Miller MP, about the need for this Government to do more to ensure that women play their full part in the workplace. The Women and Equalities Minister—and the Government Equalities Office—themselves need to do more to promote a strategic approach to equality in the workplace. The Government needs to send a consistent, strong message about workplace equality—at all levels—and make clear that regulatory measures will be introduced should voluntary measure fail to deliver the desired outcomes. If, as Jo Swinson, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, told us, "the Government is absolutely committed to equality",[224] it must be prepared to take the necessary steps to make it a reality. The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1970 and inequalities still persist. We cannot afford to wait for another 40 years, for equality in the workplace to be achieved.

223   http://womensbusinesscouncil.dcms.gov.uk Back

224   Q 445 Back

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Prepared 20 June 2013