Why Aren’t Women Working? Minister calls for increased flexible working

At Conservative Party conference (3.10.16), Government Minister Dr Thérèse Coffey MP recognised that more women are working than ever before but said that more needs to be done to encourage flexible working.

Speaking at the Women and Work All Party Parliamentary Group Fringe event, Thérèse praised the Conservative government’s record to date but added that more needs to be done to maximise participation.

“The Government is making it easier for people to go back to work if they want to, but it’s not about disadvantaging women who want to stay at home. We need to get across the point that when firms offer flexible working, loyalty and productivity increases”.

The Women and Work All Party Parliamentary Group is calling on the Government and employers to address the employment gap by implementing measures to encourage women to participate fully in the economy.

Flick Drummond MP, Co-Chair of the Women and Work APPG said:

“As Conservatives, we should be very proud to have a female Prime Minister, and of the measures the former Prime Minister put in place to help women into the workplace.

“But there is more that needs to be done, we won’t have an equal society until men and women stay at home. I support embracing good practice and doing more to give women the confidence to return to work.”

Centrica, who sponsored the fringe, outlined their initiatives to support women in the workplace including through the Centrica Women’s Network which provides peer-led support and mentoring.

Christine McGourty, Director of Corporate Affairs, Centrica said:

Centrica has a great history of investing in jobs and skills across Britain. It’s increasingly recognised that the UK economy underuses women’s talents and misses out on a huge economic prize.

We believe the business case for a diverse and inclusive workforce speaks for itself and we are proud of the policies that we have already introduced, and the cultural changes that they have delivered.”


The Women and Work All Party Parliamentary Group exists to promote discussion around women and work. Supported by Centrica, the Shaw Trust, IPSE and RBS, the APPG has an active programme of meetings with regular contributions from industry experts. Please contact Leonie Blakeway on womenandworkappg@connectpa.co.uk or via 020 7222 3533 for details on how to get involved.

Key facts
  • 40 years after the Equal Pay Act women are still not receiving equal pay for equal work, being paid on average 19% less than men across the whole economy.
  • The Women and Work Commission estimate that the under-utilisation of women’s skills costs the UK economy between 1.3% and 2% of GDP every year.
  • Eradicating the full-time gender pay gap would contribute additional spending into the economy of £41 billion each year.
  • Research has shown that increasing overall maternal employment by up to 5% could generate around £750 million in increased tax revenue and decreased benefit spending for the country.
  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission found that 54,000 women a year are forced out of their jobs due to pregnancy discrimination.
  • According to the Women and Equalities Committee, the number of women forced to leave their job because of fears about the safety of their child or pregnancy discrimination has doubled in the last decade.
  • 72% of young women think workplace discrimination is a problem according to the Young Women’s Trust

Centrica supports women into work in a variety of ways including:

  • Flexible working
  • Enhanced maternity pay and shared leave
  • Women’s Network
  • Carers policy

Charlie Wells by:
Charlie Wells