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Notable Steps UK is Taking to Tackle Gender Disparity in Tech

Tackle Gender Disparity in Tech
The worldwide gender gap is 32 per cent, and it must be overcome if universal gender parity is to be achieved. The United Kingdom has implemented both hard law measures largely based on the European Union's gender equality charter and volunteering soft law measures to tackle gender parity.

Gender disparity is one of the most prevalent issues impacting societies, labour markets, and global economies. The global gender gap is at 32 per cent, and it was predicted that closing the worldwide gender gap would take 83 years, but the current trend indicates that it will take exactly 100 years for gender equality to be realised.

Gender equality is not just a "moral and ethical stance but also makes economic sense," according to the World Economic Forum. For example, according to a survey published by the World Economic Forum in 2018, if women earned the same lifetime income as males, global wealth would increase by $160 trillion. The literature demonstrates that addressing the gender gap fundamental causes will boost productivity, address skills shortages, and improve organisational performance. Furthermore, the UK government predicts that bringing women's productivity and employment levels up to par with men's could boost the UK economy by nearly £600 billion. On the other hand, bridging the gap is important for business, as legal fees and tribunal costs are costly to an organisation. Aside from the business rationale for an organisation, if there is a wider pay disparity at work, there is a higher chance of equal pay claims, which can result in a loss of productivity, a loss of reputation, and a deterioration of employee relations and morale.

Moreover, the Confederation of British Industry's Neil Carberry noted, "From a labour market perspective, the fact that we have a gender pay gap is, by definition, an indication of inefficiency, and hence fixing it is economically essential to our members." Nonetheless, the UK gender equality act encompasses a set of policy initiatives aimed at closing the gap in terms of both justice and economics.

What is the UK Government doing to tackle the disparity?


Equality legislation

2010 Equality Act ;extends and replaces prior equality legislation.

2007 Gender Equality Duty placed on all public authorities.

2004 Equal treatment in access to, and supply of, goods and services via EC Council Directive.

2002 Fixed-term contracts via the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 (S1 2010/93);

2000 The Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations

1984 Equal value amendment to Equal Pay Act

1975 Statutory Maternity Leave via the 1975 Employment Protection Act

1975 Sex Discrimination Act

1970 Equal Pay Act

Gender Pay Gap

2017 Mandatory Gender Pay Gap reporting (large organisations)

1998 Statutory National Minimum Wage introduced

1981 Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment)

Working-time & Childcare services

2015 Shared Parental Leave introduced under the 2014 Children and Families act.

2003 Right to Request Reduced or Flexible Working Hours

2003 Two weeks paid paternity leave introduced (Employment Act 2002).

2003 Maternity leave extended one year (Employment Act 2002)

2000 Maternity leave extended from 14 to 18 weeks (Employment Rights Act 1999)

1998 Working-Time Directive

1998 National Childcare Strategy

Target setting for gender balance on corporate boards

2016 Women in Finance Charter launched

2016, the Hampton Alexander review set a target of 33% female

representation in the FTSE100 by 2020.

2016 Women and Equalities Committee enquiry into women’s representation in the

lower house of UK Parliament launched

2015 Women’s Business Council two year progress report

2011, Lord Davies set a target of 25% female representation on FTSE 100

boards by 2015

Gender equality legislation and policy in the United Kingdom are largely based on the European Union's gender equality charter. Equalities legislation from the 1970s was a result of EU hard law measures. It is now a part of the Equality Act 2010, which applies to the United Kingdom. The Equality Act of 2010, according to ACAS, "addresses pay disparities between men and women who perform the same, similar, or equal-value work". The act guarantees equal pay for equal work, as well as protection from direct and indirect discrimination and no pay secrecy. It also handles discrimination claims based on direct gender pay discrimination and discrimination based on both genders. However, the act has the drawback of being centred on negative prohibitions of discrimination, directly limiting affirmative actions, which might help in breaking the glass ceiling and occupational segregation. Therefore, the UK government enforced gender pay gap reporting in 2017. It is a legal requirement for all UK large organisations to report the gender pay gap, and failure to file this report will result in a violation of the Equality Act 2010, which could result in Equality and Human Rights Commission enforcement action.

One positive consequence of this reporting was that some companies used it to evaluate their gender pay strategy and take appropriate action for closing this. For instance, in Citigroup’s report, it specified that to reduce its GPG, it instigated a diversity strategy while keeping its business leaders accountable for its success. Besides, this policy created awareness and attracted public attention, and as a result, 10th November became Equal Pay Day in the UK.

As a result of this gender pay gap reporting in the UK, organisations are involved in assessing and reviewing their current organisational policies and practices and, where required redesigning these policies to ensure no policy is disadvantaging any group of people based on their gender. Reviewing organisational policies and practices also provides insight and encourage organisations to take corrective actions.

Way forward

Although these hard and soft law measures have shown to be beneficial to the nation, they are insufficient. The Existing policy initiatives do not place a sufficient priority on childcare facilities, which has a stronger negative impact on women's labour market participation and earning capacity. International comparisons also show that the UK has exceptionally high childcare expenses, owing to the fact that childcare services are solely available on the private market and that the UK has the largest motherhood penalty. For example, 54,000 women leave the labour market each year after becoming mothers. Thus, the government should take steps to make childcare more accessible in order to make it easier for women to return to work and eliminate the need for prolonged career breaks.

Despite the fact that the government has a significant role to play, it is important to note that government policies alone cannot provide a complete answer. Organisations must take proactive measures to reduce wage discrepancies, such as supporting work-life balance, making flexible work the default option, and ensuring transparency in promotion, pay, and incentive procedures. Finally, unless and until these policies are implemented, gender equality in the United Kingdom will be a distant dream.

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