Leading UK businesses to report equality data

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Tesco, BT and law firm Eversheds are among the leading UK companies to sign up to the government’s new framework for voluntary equality reporting, the Home Secretary announced.

The ‘Think, Act, Report’ initiative is aimed at improving transparency on gender equality issues in the private and voluntary sector, and today marks a major breakthrough for the government in encouraging more transparency on gender equality issues in the workplace.

Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities Theresa May 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.

“Equality of opportunity is vital to building a strong, modern economy that can draw on the talents of everyone.

“Over recent years, women have made great strides in the workplace, but there is still a long way to go.”

The Home Office has been working with businesses and human resources professionals to develop this voluntary approach, so that change is lasting because businesses themselves fully realise the benefits of greater equality.

Chairman of Eversheds John Heaps said:

“We fully support the government’s plans to encourage workplace equality. We are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in our firm and we are delighted to be recognised by the Home Secretary for the work we do.”

BT Chief Executive Ian Livingstone said:

“We welcome the new framework for voluntary equality reporting and look forward to working with the government on the initiative. BT has been publicly reporting its own gender and diversity employment figures for more than a decade, believing that our workforce should reflect the diversity of our customers and UK society as a whole. Access to equality figures has helped BT shape its workforce, develop new working practices and attract and retain some of the UK’s most talented people at every level within our organisation.”

The reporting framework has been developed by the Government Equalities Office and the guidance for employers by ACAS. It gives a step-by-step approach for employers to identify the barriers facing their female employees, take action to address the issues identified, and report publicly on their progress; in short: think, act and report.

The framework is flexible, and although focused on large and medium sized businesses, it is open to all. Greater transparency presents a real opportunity for employers who are committed to diversity to shine a light on the excellent practices they are undertaking, further consolidating their position as trailblazers in this field.
Businesses are driving the government’s equalities agenda forward and the past month has seen sign up from Unilever, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Grid, Genesis Housing and law firm DWF.

Tesco’s UK Personnel Director Tesco Judith Nelson said:

“More than half of our 300,000 staff are women and we are passionate about giving every one of them the opportunity and the support to fulfil their potential. There is always more to do. But I’m proud that two out of every three of our retail apprentices are female and we’ve increased the number of our female directors by almost 70% in the last four years.”

Research suggest that companies with more women on their boards out-perform their rivals, with a 42 per cent higher return in sales, 66 per cent higher return on invested capital and 53 per cent higher return on equity.

Gender equality reporting is just one of a series of actions the government is taking to promote equality in the workplace, along with introducing flexible parental leave, and extending the right to request flexible working. The government is also working to implement the recommendations from the Lord Davies report into women on boards. Business engagement is building, with a number of FTSE 100 companies now having published their own aspirational targets for female representation on their boards.

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