In November 2020 the Scottish Parliament Equality and Human Rights Committee published a report on Race Equality, Employment and Skills. This was the culmination of meetings and evidence sessions in 2019-20 that explored the need for concentrated action to address disparities in employment and skills opportunities for minority ethnic communities in Scotland.
The evidence in this report showed that progress for minority ethnic communities in employment and training had either been slow, stalled or had worsened in areas of employment, pay gap, apprenticeships, experience of racism and educational attainment.
Consequently, the Scottish Parliament requested that all public sector bodies, including HES, develop respective equality mainstreaming and outcomes reports and detailed plans with a minimum of three actions on race and employment.
- The Committee recommends those in public authority leadership positions undertake an assessment of their organisation’s understanding of racism and the structural barriers that may exist within their organisations. Public authorities should integrate their ambitions into their next strategic plan. Their strategic goal should be underpinned by specific outcomes and supported by timely monitoring. Public authorities should be transparent about their targets and their progress in delivering their outcomes.
- The Committee recommends public authorities should review their recruitment procedures and practice against the Scottish Government’s toolkit and make the necessary changes.
- The Committee recommends that all public authorities subject to the Scottish specific Public Sector Equality Duty should, as a minimum, voluntarily record and publish their ethnicity pay gap and produce an action plan to deliver identified outcomes.
In March 2021 a public sector leadership summit was held targeted at invited Chief Executives / Senior Directors. At the summit, the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee highlighted the persistent issues that impact on outcomes for minority ethnic people in Scotland moving into, staying in and progressing in employment.
Recommendations from that meeting highlighted both systemic issues perpetuating race inequality in recruitment practice and in the workplace, as well as the need to improve practices such as the gathering and analysis of workforce data to inform action plans and determine measurable outcomes.
We recently published our Mainstreaming and 2021-25 Equality Outcomes Report. When developing this, we considered the work of the Parliamentary Committee on Race and Employment and included relevant actions in an Equality Action Plan. Our equality actions will be monitored as part of our Annual Operating Plan performance process.
In addressing the recommendations above, we briefly set out our activity:
- Recommendation 1: We work closely with the Coalition for Race Equality and Rights (CRER) who have facilitated learning sessions on anti-racist practice applied to the heritage sector. Our joint Managing Imperial Legacies project with CRER and Edinburgh University continues. We have had successful experience of using positive action in providing targeted training opportunities and our Equality Outcomes Report sets out our strategic direction.
- Recommendation 2: Our current employment practice mirrors that of the Scottish Government toolkit and the actions under the Our People section of our equality report demonstrate our intentions to enhance our practice and lead to improving interest and applications to our training and employment opportunities from a wider and more diverse audience.
- Recommendation 3: In our published report we have included pay gap information on gender, ethnicity and disability. The information on ethnicity and disability is our first report. We want to improve the level of equality data we hold and engage with our employees to encourage a higher level of declaration rate.
We know we have more to do and we’re open to continuing our learning through our internal discussions and conversations with other public bodies on race equality.
Our commitment to the recommendations
We look forward to taking forward these recommendations that are already reflected within our new Equalities Outcomes.