Voluntary Gender Equality Reporting Scheme

This week the Government has launched a new voluntary gender equality reporting scheme for businesses.  Teresa May, Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities said that scheme, Think, Act, Report aims to improve transparency on pay and other workplace equality issues which will help to drive change – including closing the existing gender pay gap.

At an event launching the scheme, Ms May urged employers to commit to voluntary reporting on areas such as the number of female board members and progress on equalizing the gender pay gap, which apparantely still stands at 20% some 40 years after the Equal Pay Act 1970 came into force.

According to reports, Tesco and BT are among the first UK companies to have signed up to the scheme.

The scheme creates a step-by-step guide on gender reporting.  It is designed to help employers identify the barriers facing female employees, take action to address those issues, and then to report publicly on their progress.

Ms May is reported as having said: “I am delighted that some of the UK’s most recognised and successful firms have volunteered to publish data on gender equality. Business should be congratulated for making this positive step towards greater transparency, which will help close the gender pay gap“.

At present the scheme is entirely voluntary, but as with everything in life, peer pressure will enivitably encourage others to follow the lead of those already committed to the scheme.  The question is will the scheme help to achieve something that the Equal Pay Act has not successfully managed?  A high profile scheme, with reporting from household names may well assist in shifting perception – which is ultimately a much stronger driver for change than simply implementing legislation.