MECHANISM: A ‘proactive approach’ was needed to address the problem of women being under-represented in the workplace

BRITAIN should implement workplace gender quotas, an equality charity said on Monday (23), as it published research showing women hold fewer than 45 per cent of top jobs in the country.

The Fawcett Society study found that women were under-represented across major institutions and industries includ­ing the government, judiciary, media and business.

It said it was calling for workplace quo­tas and for all jobs to be made more flex­ible to redress the imbalance, which per­sists despite gender discrimination laws.

“There’s a very consistent imbalance of power and this worries me,” the Fawcett Society’s chief executive, Sam Smethers, said. “We have to take a proactive ap­proach if we want to drive change.”

Women make up 26 per cent of cabinet ministers, 16.7 per cent of supreme court justices and 17.6 per cent of national newspaper editors, according to the 2018 study. Just six per cent of CEOs of FTSE 100 companies, the biggest firms listed on the London Stock Exchange, are women.

Workplace gender equality has been in the spotlight in Britain since last year, when it emerged there were pay dispari­ties at major public institutions including the BBC. A law introduced in 2017 re­quired companies and charities with more than 250 workers to provide details every year of the gender pay gap.

Britain lags behind some countries including Norway, which in 2003 pio­neered gender quotas, requiring nearly 500 firms to raise the proportion of wom­en on their boards to 40 per cent.

Smethers said while commitment to address the issue appeared to be grow­ing, more mechanisms were needed to bring about change. Senior roles could be made more flexible, with part-time options or on a job-share basis, to open them up more to women, she added.

Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission said it supported flexible working and suggested fathers should also be given more support to take on a greater role in child care.