Shortlist two women for EVERY job to improve gender equality

Shortlist two women for EVERY job to improve gender equality in the workplace, Government urges firms

  • Employers should shortlist two women for every job for equality, report shows 
  • Criticism against the move which move encouraged ‘box-ticking exercises’
  • Companies should encourage women to negotiate their salaries before a job

Companies should put at least two women on every job shortlist to improve gender equality, according to official guidelines.

The Government Equalities Office is also urging firms to appoint diversity managers and diversity task forces.

Officials say the 12-page report – called ‘reducing the gender pay gap and improving gender equality in organisation’ – is a summary of the best evidence on how to help women in the workplace.

The guidance says one woman on a shortlist is not enough and two are needed to increase the chance of a woman being selected.

The guidance says one woman on a shortlist is not enough and two are needed to increase the chance of a woman being selected. File photo

 It says employers should encourage women to negotiate their salaries by showing the pay range available for the post. 

Firms should set time-specific targets for achieving pay equality while monitoring recruitment and promotion would reduce ‘biased decisions’ by managers.

But Kate Andrews, of the Institute of Economic Affairs think-tank, said the move encouraged ‘box-ticking exercises’ and was unlikely to actually help women.


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 ‘Increased diversity is good for companies, and good for their profits. If firms think it’s worthwhile to invest their resources into diversity training or management, that is what they should do,’ she added.

‘But implementing a diversity task force for appearances’ sake is only going to increase bureaucracy and administrative burdens, thereby forgoing the benefits that could have been gleaned from a more nuanced or thoughtful policy. 

Suggesting multiple women should always be on a shortlist promotes a form of quota system – that is, a system which assumes women need more support than men to get into top positions.

‘Quotas rob women of any sense of achievement they might otherwise feel from being rewarded a pay rise or a promotion; they can never know if their achievements were due to their gender, or based on merit alone.’

Laws brought in this year forced all organisations with at least 250 staff to publish gender pay audits. File photo

 Laws brought in this year forced all organisations with at least 250 staff to publish gender pay audits.

The figures suggested that almost four out of five large firms have gender pay gaps in favour of men.

A report this month by the Commons business committee suggested extending the audits to all firms with more than 50 staff.

Rachel Reeves, the committee’s Labour chairman, said the biggest gender pay gaps were ‘obscene and entirely unacceptable’.

But critics have warned the audit is meaningless and has unfairly demonised companies because it takes no account of the fact men and women may be doing different jobs.

Ryanair, which reported a 72 per cent pay gap, said the differential was explained in part by the fact it employed few female pilots but many female cabin crew.

Miss Andrews added: ‘Given their warm embrace of the new pay gap reporting measures, it is not clear the Equalities Office understands how to calculate the gender gap accurately, let alone how to tackle it. I’m sure their guidance is well-meaning, but it totally misses the mark.’  

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