Closing the gender pay gap within the wider remit of a public authority
In addition to its functions as an employer, a public authority may have functions which have the potential to address the gender pay gap in a wider policy sense. This would be the case, for example, for a Regional Development Agency, a Learning and Skills Council or a local authority in its education functions. If this is the case, the public authority should also be considering whether it can address the causes of the gender pay gap within that wider remit where appropriate. This might include reviewing the high-level policy priorities of the authority overall, for example setting regional economic objectives that address the under-utilisation of the skills of part-time women workers. It might also include specific measures such as improving school careers advice so that boys and girls consider a wider range of career options, training women to fill areas of skills shortage in traditionally male-dominated areas and vice versa, or providing childcare support for male and female students in vocational training.
Gender impact assessment
A listed public authority must ensure that its scheme sets out the actions it has taken or intends to take to assess the impact of its policies and practices, or their likely impact, on gender equality. 'Policies and practices' covers all the proposed and current activities which the authority carries out, including its employment and service delivery functions.
The purpose of an impact assessment is twofold:
to ensure that neither sex is disadvantaged by an authority's decisions and activities
to identify where public authorities can promote equality of opportunity between men and women.
Where a negative impact or a missed opportunity to promote equality of opportunity are identified, this will indicate to the public authority that, in order to meet the general gender equality duty, it should have due regard to the need to modify the policy or practice.
The specific duty requires the assessment of existing policies and practices as well as ones which are developed subsequently. There will clearly be a significant number of current policies and practices which will need to be assessed, not all of which can be assessed in the early stages of the duty. It is recommended that public authorities set a timetable for assessing the impact of their principal activities over the period of the first three-year scheme.
For new policies and practices, impact assessments are most effective when they are carried out early in the decision-making process, in order to inform the process of policy-making and enable any necessary changes to the policy or practice.
Impact assessment is not an end in itself, but is merely the process which a public authority will go through in order to identify issues and act on the gender equality duty. As well as being a legal requirement for listed public authorities under the specific duties, gender impact assessment is also a useful technique for the implementation of the duty overall, because it allows public authorities to assess the relevance of gender equality to each of their functions.
Department of Health, NHS public authorities and universities – assessing gender impact in