Labour Research April 2002


Small step or giant leap? Towards gender equality at work

Sam Hardy, The Industrial Society, 34 pages, A4 size, £10.00

This report presents clearly argued evidence to question the notion of a "genderquake" in which women are overtaking men on all fronts. It argues that progress towards equality at work may even be in danger or stalling.

The limitations of the different approaches to gender equality are described, defined as: "fix the women" (strategies to address women's perceived weaknesses); "add women and stir" (removing obstacles to women's progress in the labour market); and "managing diversity" (appreciating that the wide variety within the workforce in terms of race, sex, background etc will benefit the organisation).

The report makes a number of recommendations for policy, including a single new equality commission, a single equality Act, a national equality strategy and compulsory equality audits.

Trade unions may take heart from the fact that the recommendation that unions audit their own equality policies and practices is already underway.