Sadiq Khan: men need to champion equality in the workplace

Sadiq Khan


The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan recently launched an action plan to tackle the gender pay gap at the Greater London Authority and its functional bodies as an audit showed a 4.6 per cent pay gap between women working full time and men. asked the Mayor for his views on gender equality in the workplace. There has been a lot of interest recently in male champions of change in the workplace. How important do you think it is for men to stand up for/advocate for women in the workplace?

Sadiq Khan: I think it’s vitally important. We need more men to step up and help deliver gender equality in the workplace.

It is just unacceptable that in London today, one of the world’s greatest and most progressive cities, someone’s pay and career prospects are still dependent on their gender.  Men in leadership positions should be doing as much as possible to make sure that any established practices in the workplace that are holding women back are both challenged and changed.

I’ve been a champion for equality for many years – as a human rights lawyer, as a Member of Parliament and now as the Mayor of London.  I want to lead by example and have already started to take action in City Hall.  This includes new plans to boost female representation at the most senior levels at City Hall and I challenge businesses and organisations across London to do the same.  We must take action across the city if we are to smash the glass ceiling once and for all.

WM: What does feminism mean to you?

SK: I am a proud feminist.  For me, it’s about doing all I can to make sure we have equal rights and opportunities for women in all areas of life.

My mother sewed clothes for 50p a dress to bring in extra money for our family and now, as the dad of two teenage daughters, I want to do all I can to ensure that they – and all girls growing up in London – have the same opportunities in life and in the workplace as men.

WM: What do you think are the main barriers to women’s career progression and how will your action plan address these?

SK: I am determined to make the Greater London Authority a model employer that removes any barriers to women by adopting the highest possible standards for fair pay, good working conditions and gender equality.

I have published a full gender pay audit of all staff and have instructed other bodies within the Greater London Authority family, including Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police and the London Fire Brigade, to follow suit by producing their own gender pay audit.  They will also have to publish follow-up plans on how they propose to narrow any pay gaps.

My plans to boost female representation at the most senior levels at City Hall include increasing the availability of part-time and flexible-working options and aiding career progression within those roles.  We are also offering mentoring, career-support programmes, sponsorship for qualifications, training for managers to ensure the recruitment process is as fair as possible and piloting “no name” application forms.  And this is just the start.

WM: Do you think Brexit will have a negative effect on women‘s career progression, for instance, cuts to diversity budgets?

SK: We need to make sure that there are absolutely no negative effects on women’s career progression as a result of the EU referendum result.  As a city we cannot allow ourselves to go backwards on gender equality and I’m confident that as Londoners we will come together and provide real leadership on this issue.  There is only one way forward – and that’s smashing the glass ceiling once and for all.

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