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Cameron wants to eliminate gender pay gap within a generation

Prime Minister David Cameron is set to go ahead with plans to force large companies with more than 250 employees to disclose data on the gender pay gap as part of the government's proposal to eliminate gender pay gap "within a generation."

A consultation on the proposal is set to start on Tuesday (14 July), the BBC reports, noting that the move was put forward in the final months of the coalition government.

The coalition government legislated in the previous Parliament requiring firms with more than 250 employees to publish the average pay of male and female employees. The move is set to be introduced in 12 months.

Despite Conservative opposition to the policy promoted by its partner the Liberal Democrats, the Tories included mandatory equal pay reporting in their election manifesto, the BBC said.

Cameron, in confirming that the government intends to push forward with the proposal, will say that the plan will "cast sunlight on the discrepancies and create the pressure we need for change, driving women's wages up."

The consultation will look into the details of how the new gender pay gap regulations will be drawn up, including what, where and when the information will be published.

The consultation announcement comes on the back of news that the target of getting women into at least a quarter of corporate boardroom seats at the UK's biggest firms has been met.

While there was support for the move, there was also opposition from some businesses.

Industry not very keen on proposal

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which represents major businesses said it preferred a voluntary approach, noting that any data published "could be misleading.", according to The Guardian.

It however pledged to work with the government in trying to ensure flexibility in how the rules are applied to each company.

The Adam Smith Institute, a free market right-leaning thinktank also opposes the move, saying that it was a "sad state of affairs when even the prime minister is promoting the gender pay gap myth."

The institute's head of communications, Kate Andrews said that forcing businesses to publish their pay gaps will only promote more myths and confusion. "There is no such thing as an 'average salary''; education, previous experiences, negotiating tactics, and unique abilities all contribute to one's salary, none of which can be known by comparing John and Jane's annual take-home pay on a spreadsheet."

She said men and women also make different career decisions to allow them to embrace other parts of their life and this, naturally can be reflected in their pay, according to the Guardian.

The Telegraph said that in September 2011, the coalition government introduced a voluntary disclosure initiative which hundreds of companies signed up to but only a handful went on to voluntarily publish information on their gender pay gap.

It said women on average still earn 19.1% less than men, which is equivalent to 80 pence for every pound earned by a man.

According to the Office for National Statistics, women earn 0.2% more than men in their 30s, only to fall in their 40s when they earn 14% less in hourly wages.