Issues such as gender segregation, unconscious bias and discrimination continue to have an impact on female recruitment across the labour market, a cross-party group of MPs said, as it launched a toolkit supporting greater female progression in the workplace.

The Women and Work All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) has worked with the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) to determine measures that will help improve women’s experiences during the recruitment process and their opportunities to progress in the labour market.

Its new toolkit How to recruit women for the 21st century aims to broaden the apprenticeship levy so that it can be used as a training and skills levy.

Available at, the toolkit urges employers to recognise that changes to recruitment processes can provide opportunities for women across sectors and from different backgrounds. Often, measures to tackle some of the barriers cost little or nothing, the APPG said.

Co-Chairwoman Jess Phillips explained: “If employers are to successfully hire and attract the best, diverse talent, they need to take recruitment seriously and review their processes. This toolkit encourages employers and policy-makers to make those changes, giving practical steps that will go some way in shifting persistent obstacles that women face when entering and re-entering the labour market”.

Top tips for employers

Among other suggestions, the tool kit recommends:

  • considering the degree of flexibility that a role can accommodate and not defaulting to the traditional way the role has been carried out

  • introducing name-blind and context-blind applications

  • including salary bands in job adverts and avoiding asking applicants how much they earn

  • making sure that hiring panels are diverse

  • using a set of pre-defined, structured questions during the interview to help ensure that all applicants are treated in the same way

  • using a competency-based test or task, or work trials, as an alternative to interviews

  • implementing outreach initiatives to encourage young women and girls into a sector that they may not have considered previously.

Comment by Peninsula Associate Director Kate Palmer

This reminds employers of the importance of ensuring that all recruitment and selection processes are fair and non-discriminatory.

If a candidate feels they have been unfairly denied a role as a result of their gender they could bring a discrimination claim against the company, which could result in costly compensation pay outs.

Employers should bear in mind that encouraging and maintaining a diverse workforce can be highly beneficial for their organisation, allowing for individuals from varied backgrounds to provide differing input into ongoing company development and progression and assist it in reaching a broader client base.

The issue of workplace inequality continues to receive significant attention from the Government, with annual gender pay gap reports due from private companies with 250 or more members of staff in April.

Last reviewed 7 February 2019