The outgoing chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has admitted that she is unsure whether the gender pay gap in the UK will ever fall to zero.
However, Julie Mellor, who is leaving the EOC to join professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers at the beginning of July, exclusively told Personnel Today that she did expect the gap to fall below its current level of 18%.
Of more concern, she said, was the fact the part-time pay gap had not budged from 40% for several years.
"I would have liked the government to have done more and more quickly. But it has been a pleasure to work with a government that has sex equality on the agenda," she said.
Mellor said she had high hopes for the Women and Work Commission, from which she is standing down. The commission is due to publish its report into sex equality and the gender pay gap in September.
The challenges for her successor at the EOC include leading the debate on the right to request flexible working, which is being reviewed by the government, and overseeing the EOC's integration into a new commission for equalities and human rights by 2007.
They will also need to push for more money from the government, as it lags behind the Disability Right Commission and Commission for Racial Equality in budgetary terms.
However, Mellor is confident that are six years in charge she leaves the EOC in a better position than when she joined.
"I think we have a really strong, evidenced-based organisation now," she said.
For more of Mellor's thoughts on equal pay, see next week's Personnel Today magazine.