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Prospect is committed to fighting for gender equality both in the workplace and within society generally. We believe in a better working life for women.

The law on discrimination

According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Equality Act says you must not be discriminated against because:

  • You are (or are not) a particular sex
  • Someone thinks you are the opposite sex (discrimination by perception)
  • You are connected to someone of a particular sex (discrimination by association).

A difference in treatment may be lawful if:

  • Being a particular sex is essential for a job. This is called an occupational requirement. This includes some jobs that require someone of a particular sex for reasons of privacy and decency or where personal services are provided. For example: a gym could employ a changing room attendant who is the same sex as the users of that room. Similarly, a women’s refuge that only provides services to women could require its staff to be women
  • An organisation is taking positive action to encourage or develop people of a sex that is under-represented or disadvantaged in a role or activity. For example: an engineering firm places a job advert for a trainee engineer stating that applications from women are welcome.

The law on harassment

According to UK law, sexual harassment is unwanted conduct or behaviour related to sex, or of a sexual nature, which has the purpose or effect of:

  • violating the other’s dignity, or
  • creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment.

The legal definition also encompasses less favourable treatment because of rejection (or submission) of unwanted conduct of a sexual nature or related to gender reassignment or sex.

The law can apply to one-off incidents, or to patterns of behaviour. (We must not underestimate the cumulative effect a pattern of “low level”, even unintentional, sexual harassment can have on the victim. At its worst, sexual harassment destroys careers, and damages mental health.)

Our guidance for discrimination

Prospect campaigns to ensure that women are equally able to progress their careers by:

  • pressing for an end to stereotyped attitudes in the workplace
  • the introduction of impartial job appraisal schemes, and
  • fair and open promotion opportunities.

Prospect has produced advice and guidance for members and reps on promoting equality for women in the workplace.

Equal pay: Women and men employed on work rated as equivalent, like work or work of equal value, are entitled to equal pay unless the employer has a material reason for the difference in pay. Pay secrecy clauses are unlawful, so any term in a contract that forbids employees from discussing their pay for
the purpose of finding out if there is discrimination will be unenforceable. 

We continue to campaign to close the pay gap. See our negotiator’s guide on equal pay. Our equality briefing details what is required of employers for the gender pay gap reporting regulations and contains guidance for reps on using those regulations to help close the pay gap within their workplaces.

And harassment

High-profile sexual harassment scandals, from Hollywood to Westminster, have raised questions about how workers can be protected.

Prospect is committed to using every tool at our disposal to protect members from sexual harassment at work.

If you’re a Prospect member and you’re unsure whether a situation you’re experiencing classifies as harassment, please speak to your local representative, phone our Member Contact Centre on 0300 600 1878 (Monday to Friday, 8:30am-7pm) or email All enquiries will be treated with complete confidentiality.

You can also download:

Our network

Prospect has two gender-related members’ networks – Womanet and WISE (Women into Science and Engineering) – that seek comments on proposals by the union and employers, and update members about courses and campaigns. Members are also able to contact and support each other. Learn more about Prospect’s networks and how to join.

Our campaigns

International Women’s Day (8 March): Prospect supports International Women’s Day, which has been observed since the early 1900s to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, as well as accelerate gender parity.

Public resources for gender

Please let us know if any of the links on this page are not working by emailing so that we can either remove or fix them where possible.

Prospect resources for equality and diversity

Prospect provides advice and guidance on a range of equalities issues, which can be accessed under the Resources tab in the left-hand navigation menu. This includes links to guides, posters and leaflets etc.