Building equal workplaces

Young women face discrimination at work every day on the basis of their age, gender, appearance and caring responsibilities.

Our report Picking Up the Pieces, found that

  • Over a third of young women would not report sexual harassment for fear of being fired
  • 2 in 5 young women said they have experienced sexism in the workplace
  • 21% of young women said they have been paid less than a male colleague in their workplace to do the same or similar work
  • 41% of Black young women said they had been discriminated against when in, or looking for, work because of their ethnicity, as did 28% of Asian young women and 22% of Mixed Ethnicity young women
  • 41% of young women with a disability or long-term condition said that they had been discriminated against because of this when working or looking for work

Read Picking Up the Pieces report 

Pay and progression

  • Advertise all jobs with pay and salary details and stop asking candidates for previous salary history which can lead to young women being trapped in low-paid roles.
  • Improve the reporting of gender pay gaps, recording pay gaps by age band and ethnicity in addition to the current requirements. Employers should also put in place targeted action plans to improve pay equality.
  • Provide meaningful development opportunities for young women and offer mentoring and support to help them reach their potential. They should also monitor the development of young women on their staff teams.

Flexible and insecure work

  • Ensure all roles where flexible working is offered state this in their job adverts.
  • Employers in frontline sectors of the economy where many young women tend to work, such as social care, retail and hospitality, should take an innovative approach to flexible working, learning from recent developments in good practice.
  • Introduce predictable hours contracts so that young women know what hours and shifts they are working at least four weeks in advance.
  • Introduce compensation for cancelled shifts within 48 hours.
  • Ensure all contracts are for a minimum of 16 hours work per week unless the employee says otherwise.


  • Ensure that workplaces are accessible and inclusive, invest in diversity and inclusion training for staff, tackle discrimination head on and develop clear flexible and hybrid working policies which are responsive to individual circumstances.
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Guide to working inclusively with young women

We have developed a toolkit with young women called Working inclusively with young women.

It highlights the benefits of involving young women in decision making, what to consider when seeking their views and the most effective ways to encourage their meaningful participation.

Download the guide [PDF]

Explore the issues

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Smashing career stereotypes

We want to break down barriers to opportunities for young women, so they can smash career stereotypes and be anything they want to be.