Business woman (3)

"However, we're not convinced that the proposals to publish pay gap league tables across economic sectors will be helpful in levering systemic change. While at first sight they might appear to be a useful sanction, they could have the unintended consequence of compromising greater transparency and be subject to misinterpretation of commitment to change if not especially if they are not set in context."

The survey also shows that action taken by employers to promote equal opportunities for men and women within the last two years, or planned over the next 12 months, is limited and on an ad-hoc basis.

The most commonly cited ways in which organisations have tried to improve equal opportunities in the last two years are:

  • improving the range of flexible working opportunities available to staff (26% all employers; 34% large employers)
  • developing more inclusive recruitment practices (16% all employers; 21% large employers)
  • through greater use of mentoring in the last two years to help women progress into the most senior levels in the business (13% all employers; 19% large employers)
  • improving the childcare package they offer staff (10% all employers; 14% of large employers)
But worryingly, just 5% of employers (8% of large employers) say their organisation has developed closer links with schools or colleges as a means of improving the gender balance in certain occupations or sectors.

Looking ahead, well under half (44%) of employers say they have no specific plans in the next 12 months to improve opportunities for women with two-thirds of smaller employers and a third of larger employers saying this is the case.

Worman said: “Employers need to focus on reviewing people management and development policies and working practices to ensure they are inclusive and bias–free. Government has a key role to play in encouraging education providers and employers to help and inform young people and their parents about the diversity of career options available to them, changing misinformed perceptions and improving knowledge. The availability of good careers advice is imperative to help shape and inform the skills the UK needs to be economically competitive.”