Women and work: Parliament focus on inclusivity and intersectionality

By Chloe Jepps
Research Correspondent

Deputy Head of Research at IPSE

This week, the Women and Work All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) launched its 2019 Toolkit and Annual Report in Portcullis House, Westminster.

The Women and Work APPG is a cross-party group chaired by Gillian Keegan MP and Jess Phillips MP that provides a forum to examine and debate what policy makers can do to ensure gender balance across the economy. As one of the group’s sponsors, IPSE makes sure that the voice of the 1.7 million self-employed women is represented and heard. 

The event attracted almost 100 people and was opened by Tracy Brabin, Labour MP and Shadow Culture Secretary, who delved into some of the issues of the report. These included skills and development, mental health and wellbeing, transparency, affinity networks and making self-employment work for disabled people.

After covering the key themes, Tracy introduced two impressive speakers: Baroness Ruth Hunt, co-founder of Deeds & Words, and former chief executive of Stonewall and Rebecca Hilsenrath, CEO of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to share their views.

In an entertaining and engaging speech, Ruth Hunt focussed on the intersectionality of tackling workplace discrimination and discrimination more broadly and highlighting that there wasn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to making society more harmonious and representative.

Rebecca Hilsenrath gave us insight into her own struggles of representation and the key work done by the EHRC on gender pay gaps, discrimination and harassment.

MP Gillian Keegan then went on to introduce the Minister for Women, Victoria Atkins MP. In her speech Gillian highlighted the importance of practical policies in the toolkit of the report, in particular shared parental leave and the qualities of flexible working (which the government are now proposing as “the rule rather than the exception”) in aiding women’s mental health and wellbeing.

Victoria raised the importance of the government’s strategy to “level up” the rest of the UK with London, which sees women as half the workforce and population, not as a fringe issue to tick boxes.

IPSE is proud that women in self-employment were considered throughout the report and discussed as part of the wider workforce.

Issues that particularly affect self-employed people included access to training. Currently training for new skills is not tax deductible, making it hard for the self-employed to keep abreast of new skills requirements.

The report also covered areas such as making self-employment work for disabled people, the exclusion of self-employed people from shared parental leave and issues around the gender pay gap that exists in self-employment and employment alike.

The report was not just a summary of the issues around intersectionality and inclusivity that exist for women in work. It also included a toolkit of practical tips for employers to improve the situation of women in work and a series of recommendations for government.

Employers should adhere to the Prompt Payment Code which commits them to pay suppliers within a maximum of 60 days

One key element of the employer’s toolkit relating to self-employed people was that employers should adhere to the Prompt Payment Code which commits them to pay suppliers within a maximum of 60 days, working towards eventually adopting 30 days as the norm.  

Following on from this successful report launch, IPSE will continue to make sure that the voice of self-employed women is heard both in government and industry. IPSE is also launching its own report looking at women in self-employment on international women’s day to raise more of the issues facing this growing sector.

Read the full report Women and Work APPG Report here.