• International Workplace
  • 8 October 2018

Everyone will benefit if we address “the inequalities of the gender pay gap,” says minister

Minister for Women and Equalities, Penny Mordaunt, has told men in leadership roles, everyone will benefit if we address “the inequalities of the gender pay gap”.

The Minister delivered her speech during an event at St James’s Palace for 90 business leaders.

Only 29% of FTSE 100 board members are female, and only 13 CEOs and 21 Chairs in the FTSE 350 are women. But a recent report shows that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity in their executive teams are 21% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile.

Launched in 2016, the government-backed Hampton-Alexander Review set FTSE 350 businesses a target of having 33% of all board and senior leadership positions held by women by the end of 2020.

At the first dinner of its kind, hosted by the Duke of York, the government-backed Women’s Business Council brought together influential men from across industry to promise to support women at work.

As part of the Men As Change Agents (MACA) initiative, business leaders have been invited to pledge to:

  • personally champion the achievement of the Hampton Alexander challenge of 33% of executive level and senior business leaders being women by 2020;
  • sponsor between one and three women in their organisations with the potential to secure an executive level role within three years; and
  • be a change agent and encourage other businesses, privately and publicly, to achieve better gender balance in UK business leadership.

McKinsey Global Institute estimates that if women had the same role in labour markets as men, up to an estimated $28 trillion (26%) could be added to the global GDP in 2025. Their research from 2016 estimates that bridging the UK gender gap in work has the potential to add £150bn to the UK economy by 2025. By taking a stand for equality and supporting women at work, male business leaders can create true equality on boards and close the gender pay gap.

Penny Mordaunt said:

“The fortunes of mankind depend on the inclusion of womankind. Without enabling women to reach their full potential and to lead our organisations and institutions, we will not be able to meet the challenges of our time.

“By addressing the inequalities and cultures behind the gender pay gap it’s not just women who benefit. We all do. And men are recognising that it is the smart and right agenda for them to support this.

“I want to thank them for their leadership and for pledging to ensure at least 33% of their board members are women by 2020.”

The Duke of York said:

“We are talking about people’s talent. We are talking about people’s capabilities. In the 21st century it should not make a difference whether you are male or female. If you have the qualities, experience and knowledge you should have the opportunities.

“We cannot afford to ignore the abilities of 50% of the population. We all need to think about what we can do to encourage this talent.”

The Women’s Business Council’s Men as Change Agents group has published a toolkit sharing innovative ideas for business leaders to help close the gender pay gap and encourage women’s progression in the workplace.

The toolkit, which includes a foreword from Penny Mordaunt, gives practical advice to CEOs and other senior business leaders, the majority of whom are men, at FTSE 350 companies and other prominent businesses to achieve better gender balance in their organisations.

Recommendations in the toolkit include building a pipeline of female talent so women can move to more senior roles, championing agile and flexible working and encouraging more men and women to take up shared parental leave.

The toolkit is available to download here.