International Women’s Day is a chance to celebrate the achievements of women both in the UK and worldwide. It is also an opportunity to ‘Be Bold For Change’, which is the theme for IWD 2017.
This year, this Government is taking bold steps to deliver gender equality. We will be one of the first countries to introduce gender pay gap reporting requirements. This law will mean all large employers have to publish their gender pay gap figures from April and will shine a light on where women are being held back in the workplace. We have already seen our gender pay gap fall to a record low of 18.1 per cent but this change will help accelerate that progress.
As a businesswoman myself, I know that in business what gets measured gets managed, and what gets published gets managed even better. Publishing this data will empower employers to tackle this issue in their organisation.
That could mean helping their female staff return to work after they have started a family, or traditionally male-dominated industries doing more to attract women into their professions. I am confident that British employers will embrace gender pay gap reporting and, more importantly, will deliver positive change for their female employees as a result.
We have achieved so much already. We have record numbers of women in work and more women on the boards of the UK’s top companies than ever before. We are helping women to fulfil their career ambitions by supporting them with shared parental leave, flexible working and free childcare. We’ve also just recently seen Cressida Dick appointed as the first female chief of the Met Police. Maria Balshaw has become the Tate’s first ever female director. And I’m proud that we have Theresa May as our second female Prime Minister.
These are great achievements and I know there are talented women across the UK who are inspiring the next generation to dream big. But as long as any woman is held back, purely on the basis of her gender, there is work for us to do. We will continue to take bold steps to make sure that every girl is able to fulfil her potential. Because no country can truly succeed if half their population is left behind.
I hope you have a fantastic International Women’s Day and that you are inspired you to be bold for change too.