2017 was a pivotal year for gender equality within the UK workplace. There have been positive changes, but there are still areas that have been highlighted as ‘requires improvement’.

This article aims to recap progress made in gender equality during 2017, and encourage small businesses to empower everyone within the workplace, be they male, female or gender fluid to promote gender equality.

Update in the Law

In April 2017 the UK Government made it a legal obligation for large companies (with 250 employees or more) to report pay differences between male and female employees. The legislation dictates that the organisation must publish their median gender pay gap figures and their mean gender pay gap figures, including data on bonuses.

ACAS list the areas an employer has to report as:

  • Average gender pay gap as a mean average
  • Average gender pay gap as a median average
  • Average bonus gender pay gap as a mean average
  • Average bonus gender pay gap as a median average
  • Proportion of males receiving a bonus payment and proportion of females receiving a bonus payment
  • Proportion of males and females when divided into four groups ordered from lowest to highest pay

This legislation saw the BBC being very publicly criticised for the pay differences between their male and female presenters doing the same jobs.

#Metoo

Following the heavily reported Weinstein scandal, many women have come forward to share their experiences of sexual harassment. According to the Everyday Sexism Project’s study of 1500 women, over 50% of women have experienced sexual harassment at work.

Employers are responsible for the health and safety of all employees while at work. They are also responsible to ensure employees are protected from harassment. Through no fault of their own employers can end up being liable for rogue employee actions. Having a dedicated policy to deal with sexual harassment can help protect employees and employers alike. If you’d like further information on how to create a Sexual Harassment Policy, you can read a previous article here.

Gender Fluidity

2017 saw more attention being given to gender fluidity. While there have been no updates in the law since the Equality Act 2010, there has been a lot of press attention around gender, including John Lewis creating own-brand gender neutral childrenswear.

Under the Equality Act 2010 an employee cannot be discriminated against because of their gender, or an employee’s right for that gender to be fluid.

Don’t Forget the Men!

While a lot of press speculation has been on unequal treatment of women, it is important to remember that equality is about all members of staff being treated equally. Employers must be careful to not disadvantage male colleagues as they strive for equality.

Conclusion

It has been illegal to discriminate against women since the 1970s, and the updated Equality Act 2010 goes further to protect all genders.

While there has been a decrease in women being paid less for doing the same job as a man, the new data highlights that there are fewer women in positions of authority and that men overall still earn more than women.

Offering increased flexible working to help women juggle childcare and work commitments may enable them to progress within the workplace to help them achieve those higher paid positions.

If you have any concerns about gender equality within the workplace, contact us for advice.