Sex discrimination occurs when someone is treated unfairly for reasons relating to their sex. Although illegal in the UK for many years, the law is now incorporated into the Equality Act 2010. Sex discrimination continues to be an issue, for example, sexual and sex-based harassment and the related area of pregnancy and maternity discrimination remain serious problems, and low numbers of women in senior roles is a key challenge for many organisations. 

This factsheet offers an overview of the different types of discrimination with examples of how they apply to sex discrimination. It highlights the need for employers to take action and suggests good employment practices to ensure everyone has fair access and opportunity to progress in work, regardless of their sex. 

Explore our viewpoint on gender equality in more detail, along with actions for government and recommendations for employers. 

This factsheet was last updated by Dr Jill Miller: Senior Diversity and Inclusion Adviser, CIPD

Jill’s role is a combination of rigorous research and active engagement with policy makers, academics and HR professionals to inform projects and shape thinking on key inclusion and diversity issues. She frequently presents on people management issues, leads discussions and workshops and is invited to write for trade press as well as offer comment to national journalists.

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