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Equality Bill

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:31 am on 9th June 2009.

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Photo of Vera Baird Vera Baird Solicitor General, Attorney General's Office 11:31 am, 9th June 2009

Can I ask three quick questions? First, Katja, do you accept that equality and diversity are good for business, and not its enemies? Stephen and I are assuming that you do, because of what you said. Let me ask that of you as well, Dianah. You have made the position clear.

Secondly, you have talked a lot about direct discrimination and how small you think it is. Indirect discrimination can only really be disclosed by transparency, which requires some process to reach. Perhaps we are talking not about culpable employers, but about employers who do not know that they are paying unequally because of some historic system—they have never gone through it and done it in a systematic way. Do you agree?

Thirdly, you were looking, a short time ago, at what you think would work for businesses in terms of improving gender equality more broadly, but particularly the gender pay gap. You were talking about a quest for a basket of indicators, which would inevitably include pay. That is a good proposition, is it not? That, I think is what the Equality and Human Rights Commission is going to be asking the CBI to join in doing with the TUC, precisely to look for those indicators. That can fit on some metrics, and we can properly measure pay disparity—we seem to be allied there about that—but do you agree further that what is really important is that that should be done, and then everybody should be asked, however involuntarily it is put to them, to comply with disclosing those measures? That way, we can see, even if it has to be done differently sector by sector, what companies A to Z are doing about their pay. The point, surely, would be to get those metrics worked out between employers and employees as a group, and then move it into all of your sectors. Would you take responsibility, as the CBI, for driving that disclosure through all your businesses?