The United Kingdom’s Women and Work Commission, created by Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2004, has released a report, “Shaping a Fairer Future,” outlining a path toward gender equality and pay equity in the workplace. According to the report, “increasing women’s employment and ending gender segregation that blights the jobs market É would benefit the economy by as much as 23 billion pounds, worth 2 percent of the GDP [gross domestic product].” Prime Minister Blair remarked, “Éfrom school through to the workplace, what the report shows is that we are wasting far too much talent,” reports BBC.
The report’s introduction plainly states that “[a] cultural change is needed in order to challenge assumptions about the types of jobs women and men can do.” The report goes on to note that women are segregated into the “five C’s” markets: caring, cashier, clerical, cleaning, and catering positions, and that these jobs are less valued than comparable positions, such as drivers or warehouse workers, typically held by men. Margaret Prosser, Chair of the Commission, declared, “Many women are working day-in, day-out far below their abilities and this waste of talent is an outrage at a time when the UK is facing increasing competition in the global market place and an outrage for those women personally.”
The Commission has been working for the past 18 months on its report, which includes 40 recommendations for improving girls’ access to varied jobs, utilizing women’s skills, integrating them more completely into the workplace, and generally improving equality between working women and men. While the report states that the public sector should lead the private in increasing equality, BBC notes that it did not include required pay reviews for the private sector, a move unions consider necessary.