BT and Tesco are among the UK companies who have voluntarily committed to reporting their gender equality data, as part of the government's 'Think, Act, Report' initiative.The initiative, which aims to make gender quality information in the private and voluntary sector more transparent, means that companies will soon publish information such as the gender composition of the workforce and details about any gender pay gaps.

Theresa May, Home secretary and minister for women and equalities, said: "Business should be congratulated for making this positive step towards greater transparency, which will help close the gender pay gap.

"Over recent years, women have made great strides in the workplace, but there is still a long way to go."

Other companies that have signed up to the framework include law firm Eversheds, Unilever, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Grid, Genesis Housing and law firm DWF.

BT, which said it has publically reported its gender and diversity employment figures for more than a decade, said that the equality information has helped the company attract the best employees for the business.

Ian Livingston, BT chief executive, said: "Access to equality figures has helped BT shape its workforce, develop new working practices and attract and retain some of the UK's most talented people at every level within our organisation."

Meanwhile, Tesco revealed that it had increased the number of female directors on the board by nearly 70 percent in the last four years.

To help businesses report on their gender equality issues, the Government Equalities Office and ACAS have published step-by-step guidance for employers to identify the barriers their female employees face, take action to address these issues and then report publicly on their progress.

The 'Think, Act, Report' initiative follows the quota targets set by Lord Davies earlier this year to increase the number of women on boards.

However, despite the targets (a minimum of 25 percent of women on boards), nearly half of the FTSE 250 companies still had all-male boards at the beginning of September.