Truss resets Government approach to equality

Liz Truss has called for a reset on Government equality focus with more emphasis on social mobility.

Letters on a pinboard spelling out 'gender equality'


The Women and Equalities minister Liz Truss has announced a new approach to tackling inequality which will focus on social mobility.

Speaking at the Centre for Policy Studies think-tank, Truss will also announce a new equalities data project, to report next summer, that will gather information on life outcomes to determine where the most disadvantaged are located.

She will say: “Too often, the equality debate has been dominated by a small number of unrepresentative voices, and by those who believe people are defined by their protected characteristic and not by their individual character.”

She will say that focusing ‘narrowly’ on individual protected characteristics such as gender or race means “you end up excluding people”.

In another move, the Social Mobility Commission will move to be sponsored by the Equality Hub which will relocate to the North of England.

The minister will say support for the Equality Hub’s work related to race and ethnic disparities, women’s economic empowerment, LGBT rights and the National Strategy for Disabled People will continue and will outline the strong economic case to continue the fight for equality of opportunity.

It was reported earlier that the Government was dropping its unconscious bias training for civil servants after a study showed that it was ineffective.

Cabinet secretary Julia Lopez said the training would be phased out by government departments and that public sector organisations would also be encouraged to review their approaches. Instead, a new broader strategy will be published in the new year, with a focus on “measurable action”.

Meanwhile, analysis by the Telegraph shows that the gender pay gap has increased in the majority of UK government departments. Among the 14 departments to release pay gap data for 2020, eight recorded a larger mean gap between male and female employees than in 2019. The highest increase was at the Department for Education, which saw an increase of 5.9%, while the Department for International Trade – which is headed by Liz Truss – has seen its gap widen by 13.1% since 2017. Across government, the gender pay gap has shrunk from 11.1% to 10.5%. The Department for Work and Pensions was the only ministry to record no difference in pay.

Caroline Nokes, the Conservative former minister who chairs the Commons women and equalities committee, has criticised the Government over the lack of female ministers put forward for press briefings during Covid. The Guardian says Downing Street has not used a female minister to lead its coronavirus press conference for more than six months. Nokes said the Government seemed to have “a blind spot” when it came to women, stating: “Whatever the issue, the first port of call is always a male minister. I don’t know why that is – there are many really competent female ministers but the media team either forget they exist or just prefer to use men.”

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