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International Women's Day: Have we achieved gender equality in the workplace?

International Women's Day (IWD) on 8 March provides a common day for the recognition and celebration of women's achievements. It's also an opportunity to highlight and debate gender inequalities and issues of sex discrimination. So just how far have we come in the fight for gender equality in the workplace, and how much is there still to do?

There's no doubt that the UK has made significant progress towards tackling gender inequality in recent years. The gender equality duty, which came into force in April 2007, heralded the first ever legal requirement for all UK public authorities to work to eliminate unlawful discrimination on the grounds of sex and promote equality of opportunity between men and women. Three years later, the Equality Act in 2010 consolidated discrimination legislation to further reinforce the government's commitment to ending sex discrimination in the workplace.

Recent initiatives have also targeted gender inequality in the private sector. Launched in 2011 by Home Secretary Theresa May, the Voluntary Gender Equality Analysis and Reporting initiative encourages employers to publish key information on the number of women board members and to report on progress towards narrowing pay discrepancies between male and female employees. The first set of findings will be reported in September this year.

Nevertheless, recent research from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) research suggests that more than 40 years after the Equal Pay Act, there is still a long way to go before gender inequality at work becomes a thing of the past. The study shows that the average UK salary for a male manager is still around £10,000 more than that of a female manager, and warns that male and female managers are unlikely to enjoy equal pay until as late as 2067. The result also show that the recent economic downturn has hit women harder than men, with more female workers being made redundant.

Treating all employees fairly and considerately makes good business sense and helps you to retain your best talent. Acas is on hand to provide support for employers on a range of gender equality issues. The Acas equality and diversity advisory service provides a network of equality and diversity advisers around the country to help you examine current policies and practices, recommend improvements and assist with equality training.

Acas has also published guidance for employers on the Voluntary Gender Analysis and Reporting Scheme.

Visit the Acas training and business solutions area for more information.

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