Helping more women into the workplace could net the UK £170bn in economic benefits, and boosting digital skills could help us achieve equality earlier

Hayley Kirton
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The UK could improve by helping more mothers back into the workforce (Source: Getty)

Supporting women in the workplace is about more than fairness, as a report out today has discovered it could also drastically boost the UK's finances.

According to the study by accountancy giant PwC, if the UK was as good as getting women working as Sweden, which is the highest-performing country for helping women into work, it could boost its GDP by nine per cent, or £170bn.

The report found that the UK lags behind many of its OECD counterparts, thanks to a lower number of women in full-time employment and the number of mothers struggling to return to work after having children.

"The high cost of childcare has a role to play, but businesses need to play their part in supporting parents to combine work and family life," said Gaenor Bagley, head of people and executive board member at PwC. "This includes following the lead of the Nordic countries and offering more flexible roles and working patterns for men and women, shared paternity leave and helping women back into work after career breaks."

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However, research also released today by recruiter Robert Half has found that the gender pay gap as it currently stands means men earn an extra £300,000 throughout their career compared to women, and that pay parity is unlikely to become a reality until 2133.

"Creating a diverse talent pool is becoming more of a priority as the skills shortage heats up and business leaders focus on attracting and retaining talent," said Katy Tanner, director at Robert Half UK. "As in-demand candidates continue to be in the driver’s seat, employers are needing to offer competitive remuneration and benefits packages above industry averages."

Meanwhile, research by Accenture has found helping women improve their levels of digital skills could help gender equality be achieved at a much faster pace.

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"Women represent an untapped talent pool that can help fill the gap between the skills needed to stay competitive and the talent available," said Pierre Nanterme, chairman and chief executive of Accenture. "There is a clear opportunity for governments and businesses to collaborate on efforts that will empower more women with digital skills – and accelerate gender equality in the workforce."

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