EOC tells employers that gender bias has to stop

Employers have to take responsibility for ensuring equality
in the workplace, claims the Equal Opportunities Commission in a new survey.

To this end, the EOC has launched a 10-point plan with
proposals for action for both employers and employees. One of the key proposals
is for organisations to report on equality in their annual report. 

An EOC spokesman said, “In theory, this could mean the
company would report on a range

of equality standards, including pay by gender and the
balance

of women in managerial and board positions.”

But some employers have questioned the worth of reporting on
equality issues in their annual review. Francesca Okosi, HR director for the
London Borough of Brent, said, “The EOC needs to consult more with employers on
this issue. It would be better if the EOC suggested time-scales and targets for
reviewing pay structures rather than urging employers to report on equality

in their annual reports.” 

The EOC is also recommending that employers review pay
systems for gender bias, reward results rather than long hours, introduce
flexible working hours and establish open and transparent recruitment. Commenting
on the findings, Julie Mellor, chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission
said, “Employers have a corporate responsibility to ensure equal pay.”

Okosi believes there would also be significant cost issues
for employers implementing the plan. She said, “Many organisations don’t have
the resources to look at pay structures.”

The qualitative survey, called Sex Equality Across the
Generations, used 10 focus groups, including six family groups spanning three
generations.

By Karen Higginbottom

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