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Sexism and the City

Flexible working has a key role in ending discrimination, says Fawcett Society


Further information

For more information and to download the Manifesto, see the Fawcett Society website:

or contact Kat Banyard, Campaigns Officer, on 020 7253 2598 or 07775 855037




A campaign launched in April by the Fawcett Society aims to stamp out sexism in the workplace.  And key to the demands put forward in their Sexism and the City Manifesto is a right to flexible working for all.

The campaign aims to bring together the various strands of discrimination against women in the workplace, ranging from low pay to lack of representation in the boardroom to companies using lap dancing clubs to entertain business clients.

The Fawcett Society, which has campaigned for women's equality since 1866, says that 40 years after sex discrimination was outlawed in the UK, there is still a marked lack of equality in the workplace.  Evidence of this includes the headline facts:

  • Only 11% of FTSE 100 company directors are women
  • 30,000 women lose their jobs every year in the UK simply for being pregnant
  • Two thirds of low paid workers are women
  • Women working full-time are paid on average 17% less than men
  • Women make up just 20% of MPs
  • Only 26% of Civil Service top management are women.

The lack of flexible work opportunities at senior level means that women, who are still the main carers at home, tend to be forced into lower paid part-time work below their skill level - as the recent report from the Equalities Commission also highlighted.

It's also a problem that that UK full-time workers work the longest hours in Europe. 'This means women, as the primary carers, can't compete compete in the workplace where performance is judged by the hours put in, not quality of the work produced,' says the Manifesto.

Perhaps controversially, the Manifesto also links these aspects of discrimination against women with the rise of lap dancing club culture, which it sees as a regressive trend that 'normalises the sexual objectification of women and [runs] counter to efforts to promote gender equality'.

The Manifesto calls for action from both government and business.  These include:

  • Government should extend the right to work flexibly to all
  • Government should end the opt out of the EU Working Time Directive
  • Business should play all employees a living wage
  • Business should implement and promote flexible working at every level, and
  • Business should challenge cultures that discriminate against and stereotype women.

Commenting on the campaign, Dr Katherine Rake, Director of the Fawcett Society, said:

“Behind the conspicuous wealth of the City lies a hidden story of disadvantage and discrimination affecting women at every level of business - from the bathroom to the boardroom. For the first time Fawcett is exposing the links between these experiences. That link is sexism.

"Women have the right to dignity and respect in their workplaces and in their daily lives. It is time for women and men to stand up against the sexist culture of objectifying women that has gripped our society.

"The Sexism and the City campaign is calling upon Government, businesses and individual employees to take urgent action. Everyone pays the price for sexism, so everyone has a role to play in stamping it out.”

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