Harman:"Fairness doesn’t cost anything"
04 December 2008. Harriet Harman, Minister for Women and Equality, welcomed the announcement by Her Majesty the Queen that the Equality Bill will be brought forward in Parliament within the next year.
Ms Harman announced £90,000 funding to support the development of trade union equality representatives, who work with both employees and employers to can help create a fairer and so more committed workplace.
Ms Harman said:
"This Government is unconditionally committed to equality. We’re not going to put it on the back burner just because times are difficult: fairness and equality are enduring principles of basic human dignity – and fairness doesn’t cost anything.
"Equality is not only important for the individual, but for society and the economy. If there are unequal societies marred by prejudice and discrimination, then people feel excluded, communities feel resentful, and you don’t have a society which is at ease with itself.
"Equality is vital for a modern economy, so that nobody is excluded and it can draw on the widest possible pool of talent, with everybody contributing. That’s why we will bring forward our tough new Equality Bill to make Britain fairer."
The Equality Bill is part of a wider body of work being taken forward by the Government to reduce disadvantage and promote equality and opportunity for all. According to the new strategy, public bodies will report on inequalities like gender pay, disability employment, and ethnic minority employment.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission will conduct a series of inquiries in sectors where there is clear inequality, and it will be investigating the financial services industry, which has a gender pay gap of 41.5 per cent compared with the national figure of 21 per cent, and the construction industry, where ethnic minorities represent just 2.5 per cent of workers, compared with around 8 per cent across other industries.
Government Equalities Office has announced that there is clear evidence that people from some groups do not get the same opportunities as others – despite being equally suitable. For example, only:
One High Court Judge is from an ethnic minority;
Not a single Member of Parliament is an Asian women;
People from ethnic minority backgrounds are nearly a fifth less likely to find work.
The Equality Bill will be introduced in to Parliament as soon as it is ready next year.