Report highlights gender pay gap in the UK

Women are still being paid less than men, thirty years after the introduction of equal pay legislation, a new report has found.

The government-commissioned "Shaping a Fairer Future" report from the Women and Work Commission found that women are earning 17% less than men. This was "bad for women and bad for Britain", the report said.

The report said that increasing women's employment and ending gender segregation could benefit the economy by as much as £23 billion.

Commission chairperson Margaret Prosser said: "Many women are working day-in, day-out far below their abilities and this waste of talent is an outrage at a time when the UK is facing increasing competition in the global market place and an outrage for those women personally.

"We all recognise that the gender pay gap is complex and multi-faceted. There is no one solution - no magic bullet. We need action that starts from the early days in school and continues through all stages of a woman's working life to tackle the cultures that put women at a disadvantage."

The report made a series of recommendations, including £20 million of government funding to increase skills levels; an initiative to promote quality part-time work; a localised approach to matching jobs and skills; and development and training of equality representatives.

The report also recommended establishing a national World of Work programme to improve vocational training, provide 'work taster' days for primary school pupils and using work experience to encourage girls to think about non-traditional jobs as well as promote apprenticeships for women especially in sectors with skill shortages.

Responding to the report, Prime Minister Tony Blair appointed Minister for Women Tessa Jowell as the 'Cabinet champion' to produce an action plan.

Speaking at Downing Street today, Mr Blair said that much had already been done to end discrimination. However, he added: "This is as much of an issue to do with culture and to do with the reality of how the workplace works for women than it is with deliberate acts of discrimination.

"What we need is a whole range of different policies that are designed both to change the practise and the culture of the workplace."

Commenting on the report, Dianah Worman, CIPD Diversity Advisor, warned that equal pay audits alone would not reduce disparities between men and women in the workplace. She said: "Smart employers will already carry out regular pay audits. Research shows that treating people fairly is a key factor on improving employee satisfaction and employee attitudes - both contribute to better business performance. So, it is in the interest of employers to explore the underlying issues that are often highlighted in equal pay audits, such as poor diversity training, weak performance management systems and biased appraisal processes in order to create a culture based on fairness."

However, Jenny Watson, Chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission, said: "These recommendations will take us further down the road to closing the pay gap. We already have the highest female workforce participation in Europe, excepting Scandinavia, and with 1.3 million new jobs opening up in the next decade, making the most of these talents could be Britain's competitive edge."


Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

19 August 2014
New Data Shows Women Hit By 'Mid-Life Pay Crisis'
Female managers over 40 years old are earning 35% less than men, according to new data by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and XpertHR. To earn the same as a male manager over a career, a woman would have to work the equivalent of over 14 years more.
17 February 2004
UK sees 20% increase in multiple births over 10 years
Mothers are having 20% more multiple births than they were a decade ago, according to figures released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Statistics have revealed that in 2002, the multiple birth rate was 15 per 1,000 women giving birth, compared with 12.5 in 1992.
04 March 2009
EU Launches Campaign To Tackle Gender Pay Gap
The European Commission has launched an EU-wide campaign to help tackle the gender pay gap. Across the EU economy, women earn on average 17.4% less than men.
05 March 2004
More work needed to end workplace discrimination for women: UN
Women are entering the global labour force in record numbers but they still face higher unemployment rates and lower wages, the United Nations labour agency has reported today.
15 November 2007
Women 'Do Not Exercise Enough'
British women are not exercising enough, according to new research. According to research published by the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF), more than 80% of women are not exercising enough to benefit their health.