HR directors join forces with Government to encourage employers to report on gender equality
David Woods, September 15, 2011
HR directors from organisations including Tesco and BT, Government and industry bodies have joined forces in a bid to encourage employers to sign up to a framework for voluntary equality reporting.
The 'Think, Act, Report' initiative, launched yesterday at law firm Eversheds by home secretary and minister for women and equalities Theresa May (pictured) is aimed at improving transparency on gender equality issues in the private and voluntary sector.
May said: "Decades after the Equal Pay Act, the full time gender pay gap remains at 10% and the gap for all men and women remains nearly 20%. I - and the rest of the Government - am committed to breaking down the barriers women face in the workplace. That's because promoting equality and equal treatment isn't just the right thing to do, it's also crucial to promoting growth. It's important to business.
"We can no longer afford to go on missing out on the economic benefits greater gender equality could bring."
Employers that sign up to Think, Act Report will be asked to identify any issues around gender equality in their workplace or pay structures, address these issues and then publically report on the progress they are making.
May added: "The prize for women is of course very great. But the prize for you, in business, is also great - making your business a more attractive place to work; bringing in the best talent; showing your customers your commitment to doing the right thing; and being seen as leaders in your field.
"I think that's a prize worth having."
Following the home secretary's address, Caroline Waters, director of people and policy at BT, said: "I really believe this is another step forward on the agenda. Transparency has always been on our inclusion philosophy and flexible working has always been one of our platforms [at BT].
"Transparency is not just making us more attractive to women, but ethical investors - it just makes business sense."
The initiative is supported by the CBI and Acas has produced a guide to help employers who voluntarily sign up. Acas' new "quick start" guide on Voluntary Gender Equality Analysis and Reporting is aimed at private sector and voluntary organisations that would like to address gender equality issues but are unsure about how to proceed. It provides practical advice on tackling inequality between men and women in the workplace and gives information about "Think, Act and Report".
Acas head of equality Steve Williams said: "Our new guidance provides advice for organisations whether they are already collecting, analysing and acting on information regarding gender, or whether they are starting to think about doing so. "Equality in the workplace is so important and the Government's Voluntary Gender Equality Reporting initiative aims to drive this forward and bring about real change in organisations. Acas' aim is to improve organisations and working life through better employment relations and so we were ideally placed to develop the supporting guidance for this initiative."