More women on public boards

New Bill addressing under-representation published

Legislation to increase the number of women on public boards has been published.

The Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Bill sets an objective for public boards that 50% of non-executive members are women by 2022.

It will apply to certain public bodies, colleges and Higher Education Institutions in Scotland, subject to the Bill receiving parliamentary approval.

The Bill will drive further improvements, building on the success of the Scottish Government’s ‘50/50 by 2020’ pledge – which has seen nearly 200 organisations across the public, private and third sectors sign up voluntarily to improve gender balance on board.

Equalities Secretary Angela Constance, said:

“Addressing the under-representation of women on boards is a key priority of this Government. A gender balanced board, that better reflects the employees of an organisation, is not only the right thing to do but also leads to better decision making.

“We have already seen good progress when organisations voluntarily commit to improving gender balance. This is welcome and shows there is an appetite in Scotland for tackling this issue. The Bill is the next step towards building on this progress.

“Let me be clear though that all candidates for public appointments will continue to be appointed on merit. But by introducing this legal requirement, we will drive change across the public sector, improving recruitment methods and making organisations work harder to find the most talented men and women to sit on our public boards.”


  • Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Bill
  • The Bill sets a gender representation objective for a public board that it has 50% of non-executive members who are women by 2022. Where a public board has an odd number of non-executive members, the gender representation objective applies as if the board had one fewer member. It also places a requirement on appointing persons and public authorities to take such steps as they consider appropriate to encourage women to apply to become non-executive members of public boards.
  • Women now account for 45% of all ministerial appointments to regulated public boards in Scotland.


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