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The British Government Just Took an Important Step Towards Shattering the Glass Ceiling for Equal Pay

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The British government is working on smashing the glass ceiling when it comes to equal pay — enacting a new regulation Thursday that will require thousands of employers throughout the United Kingdom to calculate and publish their gender pay gap figures.

Companies with more than 250 employees will need to release both their median and mean gender pay gap figures by April 2018. That means approximately 9,000 employers across the public and private sectors will be publishing information on more than 15 million employees — the equivalent of nearly half of the country’s total workforce, according to U.K. government data,

“This data will show the spread of male and female earners across an organisation, helping to show employers where women’s progress might be stalling so they can take action to support their career development,” the government said in a press release.

Justine Greening, the U.K.’s Minister for Women and Equalities, celebrated the new regulation as a step in the right direction. “Helping women to reach their full potential isn’t only the right thing to do, it makes good economic sense and is good for British business,” she said. “I am proud that the U.K. is championing gender equality and now those employers that are leading the way will clearly stand out with these requirements.”

Currently, the U.K.’s gender pay gap is 18.1% — a record low, according to government data. In the United States, the pay gap has been reduced since the 1980s, but analysis done by the Pew Research Center found that women earned only 83% of what men earned in 2015.

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Write to Kate Samuelson at kate.samuelson@time.com