Britain is 'culturally sexist,' and yet to reach a consensus about whether women are equal to men, declares The Chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips.
According to Phillips, most bosses still operate on the pretext that their workers are male, and even organizations with vast resources into countering discrimination remain biased.
"There is still a huge argument to settle. As a nation, we haven't quite got a consensus about whether women really are equal or not," The Times quoted him, as saying.
"We have a culture which produces bias, even when people don't mean it to, even when they are doing their damnedest to make things change," he added. Phillips said "serious culture change and institutional reform" was needed to put women on an equal footing with men.
His comments coincide with a time when the latest government-commissioned investigation is expected to show pay gaps of up to 60 percent for some women doing the same jobs as men.
Tomorrow's report is expected to reveal that women are "locked out" of top jobs in the City because employers "massively and preferentially" hire and promote staff between the ages of 25 and 40.
"It's like Hollywood. There's no role for women over 40," Phillips said.
"The fact is, most offices, no matter how enlightened the bosses are, still operate on the premise that the average 'normal' worker is male, that someone will look after his children if he has them, that he will be able to work 9am-5pm most days - that's how we organize things. Doesn't work for most women," he added.
He named the BBC and the Metropolitan police as two institutions that had failed to eradicate sexism despite ploughing resources into the problem.
"These organizations have tried very hard. But at some point we are going to need radical cultural change and institutional reform if we're not going to get stuck at a place where in 20 years' time we'll still be saying, 'why haven't we got any women on boards?'