By Daniel Hunter

The Business, Innovation and Skills Committee will officially launch its inquiry into Women in the Workplace on Tuesday 13 November.

Members of the Committee will also discuss the inquiry on the BBC Radio 4 programme, Woman’s Hour, during two live shows airing on Tuesday 13 November and Wednesday 14 November.

On Tuesday 13 November, Committee member Ann McKechin MP, in conversation with Woman’s Hour host, Jane Garvey, will talk about why the Committee decided to hold this inquiry, some of the issues that may be looked at and how Select Committees work.

On Wednesday 14 November, the Woman’s Hour programme will be hosting a phone-in devoted to the inquiry. Committee Member Rebecca Harris MP will answer calls.

“Inequality has no place in the workplace," the Chair of the Committee, Adrian Bailey MP, said.

“Discriminating against female employees is not only unfair to women, it is detrimental to businesses and damaging to the economy.

“Complacency, inactivity and stereotyping can all act as barriers to progress.

“We need to know what steps have been taken to tackle gender inequality, what effect they have had and what more might be done.

“This debate needs to take place in public. The BIS Committee is not afraid to innovate or to break out of the so-called ‘Westminster bubble.’ By discussing these issues on Woman’s Hour, we are bringing the work of our Committee to an important new audience.

“We want to hear from real people, talking about real issues so that, together, we can find real solutions to this vital problem.”

Terms of reference

The BIS Committee recently extended its deadline for the submission of written evidence until Christmas 2012. It has identified the following issues as being of particular interest:

· Do the Gender Equality Duty and the Equality Act go far enough in tackling inequalities, such as gender pay gap and job segregation, between men and women in the workplace?

· What steps should be taken to provide greater transparency on pay and other issues, such as workforce composition?

· What has been the impact of the current economic crisis on female employment and wage levels?

· How should the gender stereotyping prevalent in particular occupations, for example in engineering, banking, construction, and the beauty industry, be tackled?

· What more should be done to promote part-time work at all levels of the workplace and to ensure that both women and men have opportunities to gain senior positions within an organisation while working part time?

· To what extent have the recommendations in Lord Mervyn Davies’ Report “Women on Board” (published in February 2011) been acted upon?

· To what extent should investors take into account the percentage of women on boards, when considering company reporting and appointments to the board?

· Why are there still so few women in senior positions on boards, and what are the benefits of having a greater number?

· How successful is the voluntary code of conduct (a recommendation of the Davies Report) which addresses gender diversity and best practice, covering relevant search criteria and processes relating to FTSE board level appointments?

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