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Women in the Workplace

Volume 718: debated on Wednesday 13 July 2022

Continuing the previous theme, we are committed to helping women in every workplace and we have announced new initiatives to do that. For example, we have called on all employers to provide salary information in job adverts. As the Minister for Women and Equalities, my right hon. Friend the Member for South West Norfolk (Elizabeth Truss) has already articulated, we are helping women to return to STEM roles where their talents are most needed, and, as already touched on, a new taskforce will increase the number of women-led high growth businesses.

I thank the Minister for her answer. Will she join me in welcoming the unequivocal judgment of the employment appeal tribunal and the employment tribunal in the case of Maya Forstater v. the Centre for Global Development, to the effect that gender-critical beliefs are protected under the Equality Act 2010 and that women, and indeed men, must not be discriminated against, harassed or victimised for either holding those beliefs or stating them? Does she agree with me that all employers will require to review their workplace practices in human resources and their equality, diversity and inclusion policies to ensure that they comply with the law as stated in that judgment? Can she tell me what steps she will take to ensure that that happens?

I thank the hon. and learned Lady for that question. She is, as we all know, very thoughtful on these issues and looks very carefully at the important consequences of the issues at hand. The rulings in that case and others reflect the important balances that the Equality Act already provides for. I think the key point to make in response to her is that we agree that we must protect free speech and allow open discussion. It is, of course, the responsibility of all employers to ensure that they comply with the law as set out in legislation, such as the Equality Act 2010, and interpreted by the courts.

In March, the UK Government ratified the International Labour Organisation convention outlawing violence and harassment in the workplace, something that still disproportionately affects women at work. In ratifying that convention, the UK Government need to have in place a programme of work to prevent and enforce the law around those issues. Will the Minister outline how the Government will make sure that they live up to the important provisions in that convention?

My right hon. Friend, as always, makes vital points and I am very pleased that she does. I will ask the Minister for Women and Equalities to write to her with a fuller update so that she can be assured of the Government’s commitment to these vital matters.