Government Equalities Office
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Everyone will benefit if men include more women in top roles

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;
  • 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 £150 billion 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.

Minister for Women and Equalities 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:

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

We cannot afford to ignore the abilities of fifty percent of the population. We all need to think about what we can do to encourage and this talent.

MACA heads and business leaders, Denis Woulfe MBE and Emer Timmons, said:

We are absolutely delighted to be involved in hosting a special and momentous dinner, for the Men as Change Agents’ ‘Lead the change’ initiative.

We are immensely grateful to The Duke of York for generously hosting the event and for being such an enthusiastic supporter of our efforts throughout the preparations.

To see the RT Hon Penny Mordaunt and over 90 senior business leaders in attendance, showing their enthusiasm and support, is truly inspiring and a clear sign that meaningful progress is within our grasp.

These first steps show how businesses value equality in their organisations. By changing workplace culture, championing flexible working and encouraging shared parental leave – and encouraging fathers to take their share, workplaces will reflect the UK’s diverse society.

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 Minister for Women and Equalities 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.

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact the GEO press office on 0207 023 0600.

  • Men As Agents of Change toolkit
  • Hampton Alexander Review
  • At the beginning of August the Government Equalities Office published a new ‘What Works’ guidance for companies to help them improve the recruitment and progression of women and close their gender pay gap. The guidance, including details of all of the research evidence, has been published on the gender pay gap website. The advice to employers includes recommendations to:
    • assess candidates based on actual tasks they would be expected to perform in their role, and make interviews more structured to avoid unfair bias creeping in;
    • encourage salary negotiation by showing salary ranges, as women are currently less likely to negotiate their pay than men; and
    • introduce transparency to pay, promotion and reward processes.
  • McKinsey’s 2018 Delivering through Diversity 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 are in the bottom quartile. The report also found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity in their executive teams are also 27% more likely to have industry-leading performance on longer-term value creation than those in the bottom quartile.

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