British politics 'generations away' from gender and race equality, new report finds

Posted On: 
13th January 2020

White men dominate most areas of British public life including politics, law, business, media and sport, according to the Fawcett Society.

Labour MPs celebrating 100 years of women's suffrage in 2018 - 47% of the Shadow Cabinet is female
Credit: 
PA

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Authors of the 2020 Sex and Power Index said the UK was “still generations away from achieving anything close to equality”.

The hard-hitting new report warns that despite some progress, women are still severely under-represented in British institutions.

It also notes a significant lack of women of colour in the public sector, with some bodies employing none at all in senior roles.

Just 34% of MPs and 17% of peers are female, the report finds. And while women of colour now make up 17% of the UK's female MPs, just 2% of peers sitting in the House of Lords are women of colour.

Just under a third (30%) of ministers in Boris Johnson’s Cabinet are women, compared to 47% of the Shadow Cabinet.

And there are no women of colour in the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales or the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Meanwhile, approximately a third of permanent secretaries - the most senior official in Whtiehall departments - are women, and there are no women of colour in these roles.

Other areas of public life also did not fare well, with women filling just two out of 12 Supreme Court justice roles, while no person of colour has never been appointed as Supreme Court Judge.

Only 21% of national newspapers are led by women, the report finds, with just four female editors.

Fawcett chief executive Sam Smethers said: “Despite much lip service about the importance of having women in top jobs, today’s data shows we are still generations away from achieving anything close to eequality.  We are wasting women’s talent and skills.”

She added: "That means quotas, targets and policy interventions to remove the barriers to women’s progression.”

This report comes as the Fawcett Society launches a new 'Pay and Progression of Women of Colour Project' in partnership with the race equality think tank the Runnymede Trust.

The Fawcett Society, a women’s rights and equality charity, is also calling on the Government to improve gender pay gap reporting by reducing the threshold for firms from 250 to 100-plus employees.

It is also calling for the legislation to be extended so that companies are forced to break down their gender pay gap by ethnicity.