Women in London's Economy

Meeting: 
MQT on 2008-03-12
Session date: 
March 12, 2008
Reference: 
2008/0630
Question By: 
Sally Hamwee
Organisation: 
Liberal Democrats
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Your recently published women in London's Economy report shows that not only has the mean gender pay gap in London not changed since last year but that at 23% it is substantially higher than the rest of the UK. Why are your policies proving so ineffective?

Answer

Answer for Women in London's Economy

Answer for Women in London's Economy

Answered By: 
The Mayor

The higher mean pay gap is the result of both direct pay discrimination and the very significant under-representation of women in higher paid jobs in London. The latter factor in particular skews the average in London, compared to the UK, because of the higher proportion of higher paid jobs.

In order to tackle the causes of pay inequality further, legislation will be needed. This is outside of my direct control. I have strongly urged government to introduce the legislation needed. I support mandatory equal pay reviews, stronger positive action to allow the 'glass ceiling' to be broken, a mandate on public bodies to include public sector equality standards in contracts, the right of employees facing pay discrimination to be represented by a group or 'class' legal action and improvements in the powers of Employment Tribunals so that they may direct action to be taken to remedy discrimination. I have urged such steps be part of a Single Equality Bill: the government supports the introduction of a Bill during this parliament.

The solution to this is to end pay discrimination and increase the representation of women in higher paid jobs.

My office has investigated the specific position of women in London's economy over the last 4 years of research to a degree that has identified key indicators of inequality and the factors that contribute to them, as set out here for example. The solutions range from encouragement to good practice through to stronger legislative powers to oblige employers to tackle discrimination.

I am advocating a skills strategy that will help tackle the causes of under-representation in so far as stereotyping and occupational segregation is concerned. My procurement policy has been applauded by many for its embedding of equality in the contract process. All these sorts of policies are crucial and take time to bear full results. I am committed to seeing them through as part of a further term in office.

With regard to good practice, I have worked hard to convey my argument that equality is essential for a strong economy in London and to promote good practice, working with employers to this end. This is proving very effective. It is notable for example that the recent WILE report indicates a significant increase in the proportion of London employers undertaking Equal Pay Reviews or Audits: from 18% in 2005 to 29% (with a further 5% having one planned) in 2007. EPRs are a transparency tool that allows pay discrimination to be revealed and tackled.

In order to tackle the causes of pay inequality further, legislation will be needed. This is outside my direct control and he has strongly urged government to introduce the legislation needed. I support mandatory equal pay reviews, stronger positive action to allow the 'glass ceiling' to be broken, a mandate on public bodies to include public sector equality standards in contracts, the right of employees facing pay discrimination to be represented by a group or 'class' legal action and improvements in the powers of Employment Tribunals so that they may direct action to be taken to remedy discrimination. I have urged such steps be part of a Single Equality Bill: the government supports the introduction of a Bill during this parliament.