Gender balance on public boards

Views sought on new bill to ensure gender balance.

People across Scotland are being asked to give their views on a new bill which aims to ensure gender balance on public boards in Scotland.

The Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Bill will ensure that boards have an equal representation of women and men on them.

The bill sets a goal for gender balance in non-executive membership of public boards, requiring action to be taken to achieve this. It also requires public organisations to encourage applications from the under-represented gender.

By signing up to the Scottish Government’s 50/50 by 2020 pledge, 191 public bodies, third sector organisations and private companies have already pledged to improve gender balance on boards.

Launching the consultation at the Falkirk Wheel, a Scottish Canals attraction, Equalities Secretary Angela Constance said:

“Despite making up 51% of the population, women continue to be under-represented in public life.

“In a new year, with new powers, this bill is a significant step forward in making sure this position changes, and that women are properly represented in senior and decision-making positions across Scotland, helping to shatter the glass ceiling once and for all.

“Real progress has been made over the last parliamentary term to improve the gender balance of Ministerial appointments to public boards, but we won’t rest on our laurels. We must ensure that we maintain the progress that has been made and keep moving forward. 

“Not only is this a matter of equality and fairness but there is strong evidence to suggest that better balanced boards perform better too, making best use of all the talents at their fingertips.

“Scottish Canals is an excellent example of a public body with a gender balanced board and I believe this can and should be the norm for all public bodies in Scotland. I’m keen to hear views on this bill and would encourage people to respond to the proposals it makes.”

Andrew Thin, Chair of Scottish Canals, said:

"We are delighted to support the launch of the Scottish Government's consultation into equality and gender balance. It is an area we have given significant thought to over the past four years, successfully achieving a 50/50 split of men and women on both our board and management team. "As an inclusive organisation, Scottish Canals benefits greatly from a diverse workforce, from the bank side to the boardroom, and this is vitally important as we seek to do more with these valuable public assets and ensure they deliver maximum value for all of the people of Scotland."


In 2015, for the first time, Scottish Ministers appointed more women than men to regulated public boards at 53.6 per cent, helping to bring the overall percentage of women to an historic high of 42 per cent.

Tanya Castell, Vice Chair of Scottish Canals, was recognised in the Queen’s 2017 New Years’ Honours List for services to diversity in business as founder CEO of Changing the Chemistry, a voluntary peer support network which was set up in 2011 to improve board effectiveness and quality through diversity of thought.

Scottish Canals is responsible to the Scottish Government for the management and development of five Scottish canals as well as the surrounding estate and The Falkirk Wheel. See or follow @ScottishCanals for more information

The Forth & Clyde, Union and Monkland canals in the Lowlands, the Crinan Canal in Argyll and the Caledonian Canal in the Highlands, together extend over 137 miles from coast to coast, across country and into the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness

Built two hundred years ago to fire the Industrial Revolution, today the canals contribute to the Scottish Government agenda of developing a Greener; Healthier; Smarter; Safer and Stronger; and Wealthier and Fairer Scotland by acting as a catalyst for sustainable economic development, regeneration and tourism; contributing to education, biodiversity, heritage and promoting active living and healthier lifestyles

Today Scottish Canals is utilising these 18th century assets along with innovative technology to tackle modern problems. Through working with partners to create pioneering systems, Scottish Canals is helping to combat flooding and driving positive transformation in some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas

The Forth & Clyde, Union, Monkland, Caledonian and Crinan canals are recognised as Scheduled Monuments and attract 22million visits per year. See for more information


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