Baroness Stedman-Scott OBE was appointed as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions in 2019 and was appointed to the UK Government’s Equality Hub in 2021. The Equality Hub is part of the Cabinet Office and includes the Government Equalities Office, the Disability Unit, the Race Disparity Unit and the Social Mobility Commission. Baroness Stedman-Scott was chief executive of Tomorrow’s People Trust between 2005-2015 and has also worked for the Salvation Army.
“It’s really important that we push against the ideas of what a scientist looks like, or who should take care leave to look after children, or who can and should negotiate a more competitive salary when applying for a job.”
Helping people on their journey back to work
Before joining government, I was the chief executive of Tomorrow’s People Trust (2005-2015), a national employment charity working in deprived communities around the UK. Nothing made me happier than when someone found a job who had been struggling for a long while.
In my time there, we helped over 440,000 people on their journey back to work. This included setting up an employment coach in GP surgeries to support people with long-term illness who wanted to return to work, working in 16 schools across East London to support disadvantaged pupils, and many other projects to help people from all different backgrounds.
I have also worked for the Salvation Army and it’s an organisation I hold very close to my heart.
Minister for Women
I work on my two portfolios: as Minister for Women for the Government’s Equality Hub, working with Liz Truss, in her role as the Minister for Women and Equalities; and as Minister for Work and Pensions in the Department for Work and Pensions.
We have five ministers in the Equality Hub, for disability, LGBT, race and ethnicity, and of course, women and equalities. As a member of the House of Lords, I work separately to the House of Commons to vote on upcoming legislation and offer my expertise.
Pay transparency pilot
This year, for International Women’s Day, we’re launching some exciting initiatives to support women’s economic recovery from the pandemic.
I’m really excited about our pay transparency pilot in particular, which will develop a methodology to help employers to show more salary information in job adverts. This means that people can see on the job advert exactly the level of pay that they can expect, and research has found that it’ll help women and minorities in particular to negotiate better salaries. This means everyone can start their career on the pay they deserve.
We will also be putting an end to employers asking about previous salary history, which can negatively affect a person’s prospects if they have been underpaid in the past.
Broadening the focus on STEM careers
In science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), it’s great that we’ve managed to increase the number of girls studying relevant subjects at school — there was a 31% increase in entries from women and girls to STEM A-levels between 2010 and 2019 — and now we want to broaden that focus to support more people to return to STEM careers from care leave.
This International Women’s Day, we are announcing support for talented women who have taken a break from their STEM careers to care for a loved one. Our new STEM returners programme will give them the opportunity to refresh and grow their skills in sectors where their talents are most needed.
At present, women only make up 24% of the STEM workforce in the UK, and barriers for those trying to return are widespread. Through our return-to-work support, we can harness the skills and talents of women to realise the benefits of a diverse STEM workforce as we recover from the pandemic.
Driving forward gender equality in the UK
International Women’s Day is really important for celebrating the amazing things that women have achieved and marking progress on gender equality, in the UK and around the world.
We’ve worked hard to introduce the right to request flexible working, shared parental leave and pay, and doubling free childcare for eligible working parents. All of these things, and the initiatives we’re launching this March, will help drive forward gender equality in the UK, and I’m really excited about that.
#BreakTheBias is a great theme for IWD this year. It’s really important that we push against the ideas of what a scientist looks like, or who should take care leave to look after children, or who can and should negotiate a more competitive salary when applying for a job.
Over one million women now work in STEM-based careers in the UK, but that only makes up 24% of the STEM-related workforce. There’s clearly still a stigma around women working in sectors such as construction and engineering and they remain underrepresented.
That is why our new STEM returners initiative will propel women forwards, providing them with the confidence to take the next step in their career, even after taking time out to care for loved ones. It’s imperative that we tackle stigma, and step by step we are making progress.
Improving the lives of women and girls around the world
On the 13th March, I’ll be going to New York for the UN Commission on the Status of Women, to talk about our UK priorities for gender equality. It’s an annual event where UN members and NGOs come together to review progress and share ideas on how to improve the lives of women and girls around the world.
We’ll be hosting events building on today’s announcements which will be really exciting and showcase all the good work that the UK is doing. I’m also looking forward to meeting my counterparts from different countries to hear about the great things they’re doing in their own countries and discuss how we can work together.
Then once I’m back I’m looking forward to getting down to the work of delivering these policies, working with businesses and policy experts to deliver change that makes a real difference to women’s lives. What could be more rewarding than that?