The failure to tackle persistent inequality in UK workplaces could seriously damage the economy and cost society billions each year in lost income, according to the interim report of the Equalities Review
The Equalities Review was established by the prime minister's office and the Commission for Racial Equality to investigate the causes of persistent discrimination and inequality in British society.
The report found that women with children were "the least able to get a job". Other groups who were singled out as particularly disadvantaged were disabled and older people.
The Equalities Review estimates that giving more opportunities to the disadvantaged and reducing inequality by a third would add £43bn to the UK's output – around £1,700 per household.
The chairman of the Equalities Review, head of the Commission for Racial Equality, Trevor Phillips, said the UK was moving in the right direction, but inequality still persisted.
"This review shows where we need to focus our efforts to ensure that all of those who are disadvantaged in some way are given the opportunity to reach their full potential and contribute to a vibrant and successful UK economy," he said.
"We would welcome any comments that could contribute to our final report and recommendations later this year."
The final report, to be published in the autumn, will make public policy recommendations to deal with the causes and effects of inequality.
A separate review, the Discrimination Law Review, is currently being carried out by the Department of Trade and Industry to assess how anti-discrimination legislation can be modernised. It is scheduled to report in August.
For more information on the Equalities Review go to www.theequalitiesreview.org.uk