Government Equalities Office

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) is the unit of the British government with responsibility for social equality. The office has lead responsibility for gender equality within the UK government, together with a responsibility to provide advice on all other forms of equality (including age, race, sexual orientation and disability) to other UK government departments. The day-to-day responsibility for policy on these issues was not transferred to GEO when it was created. The Equalities Office currently leads the Discrimination Law Review, which developed the Equality Act 2010 that replaced previous anti-discrimination legislation.

Government Equalities Office Logo.svg
Department overview
FormedOctober 2007
HeadquartersLondon, England
Annual budget£65 million in 2011-12[1]
Minister responsible
  • The Rt Hon. Liz Truss MP,
    Minister for Women and Equalities


The Government Equalities Office Ministers are as follows: [2]

Minister Rank Portfolio
The Rt Hon Liz Truss MP Minister for Women and Equalities (also Secretary of State for International Trade) Overall responsibility for the Government Equalities Office, policy on women, policy on sexual orientation and transgender equality, cross-government equality strategy and legislation [3]
The Rt Hon Baroness Williams of Trafford Minister of State for Equalities
(jointly with the Work and Pensions Department)
Overall responsibility for policy on sexual orientation and transgender equality. Cross government equality strategy and legislation.
Victoria Atkins MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State
(jointly with the Work and Pensions Department)
Minister for Women
Overall responsibility for policy on gender equality


The budget for the Equalities Office reached £76 million in 2010-11. Following the spending review this is set to decrease each year, to £47.1 million in 2014-15.[4]


The GEO has had different forms over the years since its creation. It was created in October 2007 when the Women and Equality Unit, based within the Department for Communities and Local Government was converted into an independent department. Since that time it has had various ministerial sponsors and has been housed within several ministerial departments:

Dates Cabinet Minister Unit status
October 2007–May 2010 Harriet Harman Independent department
May 2010–September 2012 Theresa May Home Office
September 2012–April 2014 Maria Miller Department for Education
April–July 2014 Nicky Morgan (for women)

Sajid Javid (for equalities)

July 2014–July 2016 Nicky Morgan
July 2016–January 2018 Justine Greening
January–April 2018 Amber Rudd Home Office
April 2018–April 2019 Penny Mordaunt Department for International Development
July–September 2019 Amber Rudd Department for Work and Pensions
September 2019-present Liz Truss Department for International Trade

In November 2018, the GEO announced that the unit would move to be part of the Cabinet Office in April 2019.[5]

The GEO's current director as of November 2018 is Hilary Spencer.


In June 2011 it emerged that female staff at the Equalities Office received 7.7% more pay than males on average. The information came to light following a Freedom of Information request by MP Dominic Raab. The enquiry also revealed that almost two thirds of the department's 107 staff were female. Raab criticised the department for double standards, stating "It undermines the credibility of the equality and diversity agenda, if bureaucrats at the government equalities office are preaching about unequal representation and the pay gap, whilst practising reverse".[6] The differences between the genders became marked from 2008 under the leadership of Harriet Harman with the pay gap almost doubling from that time and six out of seven new jobs going to women.[7]

In an interview about her role, director Hilary Spencer said "I offer one-off career chats to people, including many women, who are trying to work out whether they can make the leap to the senior civil service and whether that’s compatible with family life. Interestingly, I have very few conversations with men who wonder whether getting to Deputy Director is compatible with family life. There is still a point when women have children where they tend to take the brunt of the childcare and responsibilities."[8]


  1. ^ Spending Review 2010 (PDF). London: HM Treasury. 2010. p. 88. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 November 2010. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
  2. ^ Cabinet Office List of Government Departments and Ministers: Government Equalities Office
  3. ^
  4. ^ Government Equalities Office Spending Review settlement
  5. ^ "Government Equalities Office to join Cabinet Office". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2018-11-16.
  6. ^ Hope, Christopher (14 June 2011). "Women paid more than men at Government equality body". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  7. ^ Peev, Gerri (15 June 2011). "Equalities office where women earn 8% more than men". Daily Mail. London.
  8. ^ "Meet the woman in charge of gender and equality policy for the UK | Apolitical". Apolitical. Retrieved 2018-04-23.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 51°29′53″N 0°08′33″W / 51.4981°N 0.1424°W / 51.4981; -0.1424