“If Corporate UK fails to act on its own volition to improve gender equality, legislation is likely to take the matter out of its hands. This could include legislation from Brussels, with stringent penalties for those businesses that fall short,” warned Dawn Nicholson, HR consultant at PwC, speaking at a PwC conference on workplace diversity, at which Martina Navratilova was guest speaker.

Lord Davies’ recent report on female boardroom representation stopped short of recommending enforced quotas of women in boards. Likewise, the gender pay reporting requirements of the Equality Act were dropped last December in favour of a voluntary regime. But Dawn Nicholson told the audience, which included HR directors from a range of FTSE 100 firms, that pressure is heating up again.

“The FSA, for instance, is starting to ask regulated companies questions about diversity in its annual review process and is unlikely to sit back if it doesn’t like the answers. Government and regulators are taking this issue seriously and those firms who think the immediate pressure is off are a making a major mistake.

“Gender pay gaps are a particularly pressing issue. I would urge all firms to undertake a gender pay review if they haven’t already done so. This should be seen as an opportunity, not a liability. The biggest danger is that people stick their head in the sand”, she added.
Martina Navratilova provided her perspective on diversity in sport, talking through her experiences tackling inequalities such as historically lower prize money for female players