The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has announced the publication of the Government’s equality strategy, which is built on two principles of equality – equal treatment and equal opportunity. The aim is to build a ‘stronger, fairer and more cohesive society where equality is for everyone and is everyone’s responsibility’. Rather than dictate from the centre, the Government sees its role as working with business, local communities and citizens to promote good practice, transparency and accountability.
The strategy includes the Government's commitment to implement section 159 of the Equality Act 2010, which deals with positive action in recruitment and promotion. From April 2011 an employer with two candidates for a job who are equally well qualified will be permitted to take protected characteristics into account and offer the job to the person from a group that is under-represented in the workforce.
Although the Act also creates a power for Ministers to require employers to publish information relating to the difference in pay between men and women (the gender pay gap), the Home Secretary has indicated that the Government plans to develop a voluntary approach on gender pay reporting in the private and voluntary sectors.
As part of the new approach, the Government Equalities Office will be brought within the Home Office, and will cease to be a separate Department with effect from 1 April 2011.
A copy of the equality strategy can be found here.