Companies urged to encourage more women to go to the next level

Lynn Walters, director of Pure.

Lynn Walters, director of Pure. - Credit: Pure

Women in middle management positions should be encouraged to go to the next level in a bid to tackle inequality in the workplace, according to industry leaders.

It comes after a report from law firm Clyde & Co revealed the proportion of women in high-earning business roles has remained static for the past five years.

While the percentage of female high earners did not change - remaining at just over a quarter at 1.26 million, the total number of higher rate taxpayers increased by more than one million, the report said.

Regionally, research showed in February that only 14% of board members of EDP/EADT Top100 firms were women, lagging behind the government's 25% target.

Lynn Walters, director of East Anglia-based Pure Resourcing Solutions, said businesses needed to encourage women in middle management positions who showed talent to go to the next level as well as looking at more flexible working practices for both sexes.

'The reason why this hasn't changed is because it takes time to change,' she said.

'In the area we have got quite a lot of family-owned businesses and a lot of businesses with history. Traditionally these have been run by men in a traditional sense but in the last three or four years there has been a genuine shift in behaviour and understanding of the importance of gender equality and diversity. Businesses are realising their boards need to reflect their staff and their customer base.

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'It can't happen overnight though.'

Heidi Watson, employment partner at Clyde & Co, said: 'It is clear that the initiatives launched so far have not had an impact on national figures for women in high earning positions, which in turn impacts on the national gender pay gap.

'The government will be hoping that the new gender pay reporting rules can change that.'

A government spokesperson said: 'You can't have true opportunity without equality and that's why eliminating the gender pay gap is a key priority for this government.

'We are committed to supporting women at all stages of their careers to ensure that they stay in the workforce and progress to the most senior roles.

'The overall gender pay gap is the lowest on record at 19.2%, but we are clear that closing the gap is essential for improving the UK economy.

'We want to see it eliminated in a generation, which is why we will be requiring organisations to publish details of their gender pay gap.'

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