Close the Gap assessment reveals significant regression in public authorities' compliance with the public sector equality duty
Close the Gap completed its second assessment of public authorities’ compliance with the gender and employment requirements of the public sector equality duty. By 30 April 2015 listed public authorities were required to publish:
- an updated mainstreaming report;
- updated gender-disaggregated employee data;
- a report on progress to meet equality outcomes; and
- an updated gender pay gap figure.
We looked at the same sample of public authorities that were included in our assessment of 2013 reporting, which included organisations from local government, higher and further education sector, the NHS, and non-departmental public bodies.
Among the sample of public bodies assessed, compliance with the duty has largely regressed, with the majority of public authorities assessed as having lower scores than in 2013. Just under a third achieved an improved score.
Key themes from the report include:
- incomplete, inconsistent, and insufficiently detailed gender-disaggregated data;
- significant under-reporting on pregnancy and maternity;
- more than half of the public authorities assessed had no outcomes on gender on employment;
- a significant lack of evidence on progress to meet equality outcomes; and
- inadequate gender pay gap reporting including miscalculations, poor or no analysis of the causes, and failure to set actions to address the pay gap.
The full report is available here.
The regression of public authorities’ performance is particularly concerning as our assessment work of 2013 reporting, and research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, revealed that performance in 2013 was already poor.
It’s clear that there are significant challenges for public authorities in complying with the public sector equality duty. These include a lack of knowledge and understanding of gender equality, inadequate systems to gather and analyse employee data, and organisational cultures which result in a lack of prioritisation of equalities work.
The persistent failure to meet the duty, and take actions to progress gender equality means that women workers in the sector, where they comprise the majority of the workforce, will continue to face gendered barriers to equal participation at work.
The findings of this assessment will inform the development of future Close the Gap work to support public authorities in complying with the duty. In the new year we’ll be developing refreshed guidance for public authorities on gender and employment, equal pay, and occupational segregation to update our guidance published in 2012.
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