Plans to boost role of women in the workplace


The government is to unveil a series of measures aimed at boosting the role of women in the workplace.

Announcing the initiatives, communities secretary Ruth Kelly will stress that helping women to get better jobs could be worth up to £23 billion a year to the British economy.

The latest drive to help women succeed at work is being launched in response to a report published by the Women and Work Commission in February, which examined the barriers that prevent women from earning as much as men.

Among the initiatives to be announced by the government, is the launch of a nationwide campaign to encourage businesses to sign up as "exemplar employers" by offering women help with flexible working, time-share and good quality part-time work.

Ms Kelly will reveal that 80 companies, including Accenture, BAE Systems, BT, BP and Centrica have already signed up to the initiative.

The government is also establishing a £500,000 fund to back companies that specialise in flexible working arrangements, while £10 million will be provided over a two-year period to support pilot schemes aimed at testing new recruitment and career pathways for at least 10,000 women.

Ms Kelly, who will stress that the initiatives will "establish a change in culture from the playground to the boardroom", is also set to announce new national standards for local education authorities which will require schools to offer female pupils career advice which
is "free from gender stereotyping".

Announcing the new package of measures aimed at increasing the role of women at work, the communities secretary is expected to say: "The best of business already understands the benefits that flexible working delivers, but it's time the rest jumped on board."

"My message to business is clear, this is not about political correctness, this is about improving your profit margins."

"The challenge now is to ensure we establish a long-term change in attitude and a major expansion of opportunities, with businesses helping individuals make the most of their talents," Ms Kelly is expected to add.

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