Private firms bidding for government contracts must publish diversity info

Private sector firms bidding for government contracts will now have to publish details of their diversity policies, the government has confirmed.

Speaking ahead of the first draft of the Equality Bill to be unveiled this week, the director general of the Government Equalities Office, Jonathan Rees, told Personnel Today it would not seek to impose statutory duties on the private sector to promote diversity, but will use public sector procurement to hold firms to account.

The Bill is expected to simplify diversity legislation in the UK and introduce measures to help eradicate the gender pay gap, which currently stands at 17% between men and women in full-time roles.

Currently, about one-third of private companies are awarded public sector contracts, according to Rees. “The Bill will look at how we can use public sector procurement to encourage transparency in the private sector,” he said.

“It is normal that the public sector should drive public policy [by adhering to statutory duties]. The issue for the private sector is what the best way of doing that is. At this stage, it is by encouraging diversity through procurement.”

Last month, women’s minister Barbara Follett hinted the Bill might follow the US in asking all firms bidding for government work to publish their diversity policies. The Bill will demand more transparency from employers make diversity practices more important to winning government contracts strengthen enforcement of the law and encourage more positive action, she said.

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