Matt Hancock, Minister for the Cabinet Office, has called for an end to single-sex shortlists and selection panels for public appointments during an International Women’s Day (IWD) speech.
The theme for IWD is #PledgeForParity. He made his announcement during a speech to mark International Women’s Day: “We’re making progress, and this should be celebrated. But parity hasn’t yet been reached everywhere, and so there is more to do.
“I want to see an end to single-sex shortlists and selection panels for public appointments. Whilst this is currently the case in the majority of competitions, I want it to be the standard across the board. This shows we’re serious about gender parity, and I hope that the private sector takes notice and follows suit.”
Hancock mentioned his own daughter in his speech, to stress the importance of gender parity in the UK: “In my first speech as Cabinet Office Minister I said that to govern modern Britain, the Civil Service has to be more like modern Britain. Whether it’s a matter of social background, or gender, or ethnicity, or sexual orientation, we must end the injustice of unfair discrimination.
“I want my daughter to have every opportunity that my sons have. And like all of you here today, I pledge to do my duty to build a world in which all can succeed. I’m proud of this great feminist cause, and I’m proud to call myself a feminist in making that pledge.”
He added that gender parity is “crucial” and that “an integral part of that is opening our doors to the best talent, making sure all people have the opportunity to grow and excel. It’s good business sense to bring in as many different ways of thinking as possible. Difference promotes innovation and strength.
“International Women’s Day is a chance to hold up a mirror to ourselves. To do so we must take a good hard look at where we are, where we need to go, and how we get there. So let’s look at where we are. Today, women make up 54% of our civil servants. A record 44% of new public appointments last year were women.”
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond also spoke of International Women’s Day today: “Women’s rights are fundamental to the success of any society. The crucial role that women have to play in resolving conflict and in rebuilding societies is too often overlooked. Nowhere in the world is this more important than in Syria.
“I’m pleased that UK support has enabled the first women army officers to graduate from the Afghanistan National Army Officer academy.”