Thursday 5 March 2020 12:01 am

London is the UK’s worst region for women in work

London has fallen to the bottom of the UK’s regional ranking in PwC’s latest Women in Work Index. 

The capital fell three places because of poor female labour force participation and a high female unemployment rate. 

The gap between male and female labour participation sits at 13 per cent, behind the UK average of 10 per cent. 

The South West unseated Scotland as the UK’s top region, while Northern Ireland jumped from fourth to second. 

Chris Reeve, PwC London chairman, said: “While it’s disappointing to see London fall to the bottom of the UK’s regional ranking, there are positive stories, with female unemployment dropping from 6% to 5% this year.”

“London is a hugely diverse, international city and businesses have a responsibility to ensure economic empowerment is reflected fairly across every organisation. This will ensure the best talent is attracted and retained, and productivity continues to grow throughout the capital.”

Read more: Like a boss: Cherie Blair on helping women start their own business

UK outpaced by OECD countries

Despite holding firm in 16th place, the UK is being outpaced by greater improvements in employment prospects in other OECD countries.

Although the UK outperforms the OECD average, its position in the Women in Work index has barely budged since 2000 when it stood in 17th position. 

Jing Teow, economist at PwC, said: “Although progress has been made across both the UK and OECD, the rate of improvement is still slow, despite the prospect of huge economic gains from increasing female participation in the workforce.” 

The accounting firm concluded that the OECD and UK would receive huge boosts to £4.63 trillion and £198bn respectively, if they could match the best-performing country, Sweden. 

Sweden and Iceland retained the two top spots for the fifth year in a row, with Slovenia in third place. 

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Read more: “Diversity drives better investor outcomes” says Margaret Franklin, CFA

Women underrepresented in tech

Women are still being left behind in the tech world, accounting for just 30 per cent of the workforce. 

In contrast to the main index, in which the UK is the second best performing G7 country, it ranks fifth out of the G7 in PwC’s Women In Technology index. 

Laura Hinton, chief people officer at the firm, said: “Long-term, targeted solutions will be vital in making changes sustainable. We know that in areas such as Stem women are under-represented. In order to build and sustain a pipeline of diverse talent, businesses need to work together to encourage girls at young ages through initiatives”. 

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