It has been suggested businesses that recruit a balanced labour force will be more successful.

Karen Gill, director of everywoman, said the Equalities Bill will allow HR staff to positively discriminate in favour of women, as well as ethnic minorities and the disabled.

She said: "That the government is recognising this is a step forward. It has been proven that a more balanced workforce is a more financially productive one."

The expert added many companies appear to have a gender balance. However, in the higher echelons of management there are few females occupying senior positions.

Equalities minister Harriet Harman claims she plans to use the bill to help women land top jobs in the City, which Ms Gill believes is a good idea.

She suggested organisations need to encourage and support their female staff by invest in training to "ensure they progress into the senior roles".