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Suffolk/ Norfolk: New Anglia LEP launches new drive to help women achieve their economic potential

PUBLISHED: 12:25 04 March 2014 | UPDATED: 23:01 04 March 2014

Erika Clegg, board member of New Anglia LEP.

Erika Clegg, board member of New Anglia LEP.

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New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is launching a drive to boost employment by helping more women in the region to achieve their full economic potential.

The initiative follows a report on Economic Equality commissioned by the LEP from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and University Campus Suffolk (UCS) which analysed data on salaries and house prices, and identified a growing problem of affordability within the region.

New Anglia, which works to support growth and jobs in Suffolk and Norfolk, now plans to draw up an Economic Equality Manifesto, with its first move being to seek applications for the new role of economic equality project coordinator to help develop the strategy.

The UEA/UCS report, published last November, highlighted a growing consensus across the academic, business and public policy sectors that supporting greater equality between men and women produces significant benefits for businesses and leads to economic growth.

It said that businesses sensitive to gender equality are better able to attract the best talent and show enhanced levels of organisational performance, innovation, creativity and productivity which in turn is reflected in their competitive performance in the market.

However, the report found that while women account for 50% of the population of working age in Suffolk and Norfolk, they only represent 47% of the actual workforce and nearly half (46%) of women who are in employment are working part-time.

It also found that, among full-time workers, the average gross salary of women is only three-quarters (76%) that of men (£25,624 against £33,926) while among part-time workers the equivalent figure is 86% (£10,018 against £11.670).

And it also found that, with price inflation out-stripping pay rises and the average house price in the East of England now well above £250,000, many two-income households are unable to afford to buy a home even where both partners are working full-time.

Erika Clegg, a New Anglia board member and founder of the Suffolk-based communications design agency Spring, said: “Established equality allows women to prepare for and launch careers. But we now need Economic Equality so that these skills are put to sustained use, allowing men and women to share equal responsibility for caring and for earning.

“This is not an argument about rights; this is a drive towards region-wide growth and a response to the cost of living faced by today’s households.

“Our research shows that women are emerging from education with high-value skills and great potential. This represents a great opportunity for growth across the region. But women’s average full-time yearly pay is just £25,624 compared to almost £34,000 for men, and their career drop out rate is high.

“New Anglia LEP is creating an Economic Equality Manifesto. This will have a real impact on peoples’ lives and on the regional economy; consisting of timed, quantifiable actions that will help to create real change in action and attitude across our regional workforce and next working generation.

“The east of England is on the edge of a boom, and New Anglia LEP is keen to ensure that we can all take part.”

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