Harriet Harman is putting together a new equality bill which seems to me to have been specifically designed to have as little actual impact as possible while winding up the anti-equality lobby as much as she can. The plans are for a new equality bill which would mean that employers in the public (but not private) sector must publish data on their gender pay gap and will allow employers to hire a woman or ethnic minority candidate in a circumstance where two candidates are equally qualified. Of course I don't really understand the term "equally qualified". Surely no two candidates are equally qualified - there is always a difference.
And unfortunately by putting that clause in it has given the tabloids the chance to have a field day. The Daily Express ran with "White Men Face Jobs Ban" which is just literally a lie.
What it's going to do for the most part is (a) stir up hate (although honestly I think the haters are quite capable of hating us whatever we do!) and (b) create a new industry of specialist consultants available to massage gender pay data and make your public sector organisation look like they're not as discriminatory as they really are. What would work much better is to bring in compulsory internal pay, recruitment and promotion audits with feedback and recommendation followed by fines for companies and public bodies (above a threshold size) who fail to make changes fast enough. And an independent board set up to seek out and punish discriminatory practices throughout public and private sectors where employees do not wish to run a full court case but where distinct improvements can be made.
Essentially the existing law should provide all the protection from discrimination that women need - but sadly efforts to enforce it are minimal. What we need is not so much new laws, but the existing ones actually adhered to.
But hell, at least it's something, a step in the right direction. It certainly won't do any harm and there are bound to be cases where it does some good. And when I hear the Daily Express quoting her opponents saying Ms Harman "must be the most politically correct MP" I think she must be doing something right.