Selling the Case for Gender Equality: Deregulation and Equality Bargaining



This article explores the implications of deregulation for gender equality. Comparative, outcomes-based analyses suggest that deregulated systems are characterized by inequality. A critical case study of British Gas is used here to evaluate the prospects for equality bargaining, that is the use of voluntary, joint regulation to further equality, in the wake of radical deregulation. Responsibility for equality in the workplace is found to have been privatized. The state as regulator has stood back and managers have reclaimed equality policy within managerial prerogative. Action on inequality has become conditional upon the existence of a business case, an approach that is insufficient for the task. Some re-regulation is required to help bargainers exploit fully the potential of joint regulation for equality.