Despite the publication of the Equality Bill and a mandate that companies of a certain size will have to declare differences in pay between the sexes, close to two thirds of businesses have failed to review gender pay gaps.

That is according to a report published by law firm DLA Piper, which has also revealed that more than half of senior HR professionals surveyed said they were concerned that both women and minority groups were
"under-represented" in their company.

The Bill is proposing that one of the ways to combat the issue of pay inequality is to encourage positive discrimination whereby employers offer a job to someone from a group who is underrepresented in a
company, as long as they are the right candidate for the job.

However, Sandra Wallace, employment law partner at DLA Piper warned that such a move may be "controversial".

She said: "The chances that managers could misapply positive discrimination could lead to disgruntled candidates suing and this may strongly discourage many organisations from applying it."

Under the new bill, companies with over 250 staff will be required to report on any gender pay gaps from 2013.