February 23, 2023
In February 2022, the Conservative government launched the Levelling Up White Paper, framed as a ‘plan to transform the UK by spreading opportunity and prosperity to all parts of it’.
There remains significant regional inequalities in the UK, including gender parity.
Large inequalities still exist between pay for men and women in the UK. In April 2020, the national median weekly pay for female employees was £543 compared to £613 for men. The employment rate for women was 8% lower than the male employment rate and women were less likely to run a business, according to Women’s Budget Group.
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, inequalities were exacerbated, with outdated social norms and stereotypes continuing to hold society back from reaching gender equality, according to the UN Women 20-country study.
Equalising women’s productivity and employment to that of men’s levels has the potential for increased gross domestic product of 35% in the UK. This could be equal to an additional £600 billion to our economy.
According to pwc, the Midlands has seen improvements in it’s female labour force participation rate (75%), rising above the national average (74%) and the gender pay gap continues to fall across the region, from 18% to 16%.
It’s evident there needs be to more targeted careers support, improvements to parental leave, flexible working and a greater focus on mental health and wellbeing. There is an opportunity for both employers and Government to use the economic recovery as a springboard for gender equality in the UK. A plan that embeds gender equality at its core will shape future labour markets and bring about lasting change.
The Government must continue to broaden its view and put a greater focus on gender equality and invest in areas where it’s needed most.
The UK has the chance to address these inequalities. As we approach a green industrial revolution, policymakers and businesses can work together, giving women an opportunity to be a part of, and take a leading role in, shaping the future.
As a country, we need to create more female role models and recognise their achievements. This is why I am a supporter of events such as the Women of the Year Luncheon and Awards which Pertemps has been proud to support for several years.