Addressing race inequality in Scotland: the way forward

A report from the Scottish Government's independent adviser on race equality in Scotland.

B. Employment

9. This section sets out my recommendations for actions to be included in the 4 year delivery plan with the aim of working towards achieving the goal of parity in employment for minority ethnic communities. These have been drawn from conversations with a range of stakeholders and build on the actions in the Fair Work Framework.

10. The aim is that at the end of 4 years, access to employment by individuals from minority ethnic communities will be increased; career pathways will be enhanced and expanded; and the employment disparity gap between White and BME communities will be significantly narrowed from 16.4%.

Action 9: As a key immediate action, the Scottish Government should work with stakeholders to agree challenging targets with associated monitoring and evaluation measures, to track progress towards the achievement of parity in employment for minority ethnic communities.

11. A list of my other proposed actions are grouped under the following headings:

  • An Employment/ Race Equality Eco-system
  • Public Sector
  • Skills Development, Employability and Careers Guidance (supply side)
  • Employer Engagement (demand side)
  • Public Investment Programmes.

An Employment / Race Equality Eco-System

12. Evidence cited in ' How fair is Scotland' shows that despite having the highest levels of educational attainment, people from BME communities are twice as likely to be unemployed compared to those from white communities.

13. At present, race equality employment initiatives designed to address this disparity are scattered across a number of Directorates in the Scottish Government and its delivery agents. Outside of the Government's Youth Employment Strategy – Developing the Young Workforce, there appears to be no co-ordinated approach to what is happening where and by whom, on race equality. The labour market strategy and its framework does not on its own deliver the interconnections between the economy, business, social justice and equalities.

14. So much policy delivery in this area is devolved to different agencies, with their own mechanisms, systems and processes. It is unclear to me just what levers and support structures are available to address barriers and to take advantage of any opportunities there may be for minority ethnic individuals to fulfil their potential.

15. It is my view that without a simplified and unified structure within the Scottish Government, the opportunities to tackle discriminatory employment practices, and to support the development of minority ethnic talent are missed. Efforts are being duplicated and resources are not being deployed to maximum effect. The development of such a system has become more urgent given the projected negative impact on the labour market in Scotland as a result of Brexit.

Action 10: The Scottish Government should review how employment support structures are currently delivered to people from minority ethnic communities.

Action 11: The Scottish Government, as soon as is feasible, should designate the Fair Work Directorate as the overarching body to develop strategic thinking and a co-ordinated approach to delivering equality in general and race equality in particular.

Action 12: The Scottish Government should task the Fair Work Directorate with developing;

  • A simplified and unified structure that joins up the Directorate around issues of equality,
  • A mechanism to capture synergies by engaging with agencies such as Skills Development Scotland ( SDS), Scottish Enterprise, Local Authorities and the third sector around the collective goal of narrowing the employment disparity gap between white and BME communities,
  • A proportionate and coherent system to provide direction, a strategic approach and accountability on equality in general as it relates to the Fair Work agenda and on race equality in particular. This should include two strands:
    • An overall strategy on access to jobs and the underemployment of individuals from minority ethnic communities that works across Modern Apprenticeships, and the variety of employability schemes offered by a range of public bodies, and
    • A system which monitors, evaluates and disseminates the learning particularly from what hasn't worked and why - from various equality initiatives
  • A programme of action to embed equality in programmes and policies, the aim of which would be to deliver improvement in processes such as equality impact assessments and to promote equal participation and opportunities for all, including those from minority ethnic communities who are at a particular disadvantage in the labour market.

Public Sector

16. It is generally accepted that for public services to be effective and relevant for all communities in Scotland, the public sector workforce should reflect the community it serves. The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that by 2025 its own workforce will reflect at every level the minority ethnic share of the population. According to the 2017 staff diversity data published in the Scottish Government's Equality Outcomes and Mainstreaming Report, BME staff currently comprise 1.6 % of the civil service in Scotland, an increase of 0.2 % since 2013.

17. The position set out in the CRER report of March 2014 is that just 0.8% of staff in all Scotland's Local Authorities are from BME backgrounds despite making up 4% of the general population in Scotland. In Glasgow City Council the proportion of the workforce from a BME background is less than 2% although the BME population is 12%.

18. Given that the Public Sector employs 20.7% of the workforce in Scotland, accelerating action to tackle the diversity deficit in the Scottish Public Sector and meet the Scottish Government's equality outcomes is, I suggest, a matter of some urgency.

Action 13: The Scottish Government should look to use the Workplace Equality Fund to increase employment opportunities for people from minority ethnic backgrounds using the positive action powers permitted under the Equality Act 2010.

Action 14: The Scottish Government should undertake an evaluation of the current minority ethnic employment landscape in the light of the new data from the public bodies equality reporting round on the pay and occupational segregation of minority ethnic individuals in the public sector.

Action 15: Based on the findings of the evaluation, and in partnership with COSLA the Scottish Government should undertake the following:

a. Seek public sector and professional bodies' commitment to parity of minority ethnic employment in the public sector. This commitment should be backed up by a time limited programme of action as set out in the Equal Opportunities Committee Report, ' Removing Barriers: Race, Ethnicity and Employment' including:

  • Improved capacity to tackle discrimination in recruitment, selection and career progression,
  • The promotion of 'inclusive working to learn cultures'
  • Robust and standardised job application processes including the use of open recruitment and name-blind job applications, and
  • A range of impact measures to test progress in attracting and developing individuals from minority ethnic communities.

b. Establish a policy and practice forum focused on increasing the number of minority ethnic employees at all levels in the public sector in Scotland. This should include the identification of blockages in recruitment, retention and career progression, and the testing of new ideas to determine which are sensible, achievable or need to be recast, in order to make a difference.

Action 16: The Scottish Government should build into the New Scots Framework a range of actions to promote access to work for refugees, and improve skills, education (including ESOL and skills recognition), training and volunteering opportunities for asylum seekers and refugees.

Skills Development, Employability Schemes and Careers Guidance

19. The analysis of the 2011 census by the Scottish Government found significant differences in the employment rates of different ethnic groups, with people of Polish ethnicity most likely to be working (81% were either employed or self- employed); and the lowest employment rates for Pakistani and Bangladeshi people (42.9%) with very low rates of economic activity for Pakistani and Bangladeshi women in particular.

20. With respect to BME, those who are employed, broadly speaking, are mostly in professions or in the SME sector. What needs to be unpicked is the recruitment challenge, career progression and jobs in the missing middle. Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Government's Employability Services both have a key role to play in this. To date, the Modern Apprenticeship Programme stands at a national BME participation rate of 1.7%. This falls far short of the target of at least 4%. To address this:

Action 17: The Scottish Government should require SDS to increase the number of people from BME backgrounds who (a) start and complete modern apprenticeships and (b) who having completed Modern Apprenticeships, achieve career progression including improved levels of pay over a sustained period. There should also be a requirement for regular reporting on the progress made towards this.

Action 18: To achieve these objectives the Scottish Government should support SDS:

  • By facilitating a joined up approach between addressing employability skills issues and the recruitment and progression opportunities that procurement in public investment programmes could offer people from minority ethnic communities (see Public Investment Programmes and Action 48)
  • Extend the reach of the proposed regional strategies in the Modern Apprenticeships Action Plan into:
    • BME businesses: to ensure that BME business owners have an equal opportunity to make the most of the Apprenticeship system - to grow their businesses by filling any skill gaps required to develop their business models and objectives.
    • Unemployed BME women: to provide opportunity for entry to jobs in growth sectors, leading to good quality employment.
    • New migrants and refugees: by providing a skills acquisition programme with placements tailored to their particular needs.
    • BME graduates: by establishing positive action training / apprenticeship schemes as routes into employment in sectors where they are under-represented.

Action 19: With respect to Employability Services, the Scottish Government should:

  • Monitor and evaluate participation in employability interventions by people with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 (including people from minority ethnic backgrounds). This should capture examples of good practice in encouraging and sustaining participation and the extent to which services deliver comparatively successful outcomes. It should also identify and learn the lessons from what didn't work and why;
  • Have policies and practice in place to tackle low wage traps which affect some minority ethnic groups disproportionately;
  • Tailor services to address the specific barriers faced by asylum seekers and refugees; and
  • Focus on the need to provide support for minority ethnic graduates transitioning into the workplace.

Action 20: The Scottish Government should ensure that current and future plans to enhance career information advice and guidance services are aligned and focused on the needs of young people of all ethnicities. This will require the following:

  • A partnership task group set up to work with BME communities directly to identify the nature of all barriers and, working collaboratively, develop solutions to overcome them;
  • Mechanisms put in place that ensure all partners who deliver career advice services;
    • Proactively challenge stereotypes, and equip BME young people to challenge assumptions about their chosen paths;
    • Give BME young people a sound understanding of the full breadth of future learning and career opportunities; and
    • Support BME young people into rewarding and fulfilling training and jobs that best fit their skills, interests and aspirations and offer pay and prospects in line with their abilities. This should include both vocational and academic learning, training opportunities, and progression prospects associated with different career prospects.

Employer Engagement

21. There is extensive research evidence which suggests the need for policy and practice which both challenges discrimination in recruitment, retention and career progression as well as supports BME individuals to develop their employability skills. My sense is that in Scotland, efforts to increase BME employment have largely focused on developing their employability. There appears to be a reluctance and/or an inability to tackle issues relating to race discrimination in employment.

22. Overall, I propose a 4 year plan which engages employers in a different way; one which points out the moral necessity as well as the business opportunities in diversifying their workforce.

23. The proportion of the working age population in the UK that comes from BME population is increasing and the potential benefit from full representation of BME individuals across the labour market through improved participation and progression is estimated in Baroness Smiths Review ' Race in the Workplace' to be in the region of £24 billion a year in the UK. This represents 1.3% of GDP. Every employer, she suggests, should be seeking to obtain their share by making the changes which tackle organisational culture and behaviours that hold BME back from making a full contribution.

Action 21: The Scottish Government should fund studies to identify those sectors in which people from minority ethnic backgrounds are underrepresented and the reasons for the underrepresentation.

Action 22: The Scottish Government should establish an Employer Engagement Programme for business leaders delivered on a sectoral basis and in partnership with the private sector and the Chartered Management Institute and/or the British Academy of Management. This programme should be modelled on the newly established ' CMI Race' network and its 7 point action plan to mainstream the attitudes and behaviours required to build inclusive workplaces including setting targets for progression of minority ethnic individuals.

Action 23: The Scottish Government should launch a #maketheshift campaign, led by a senior private sector company, to create a momentum behind minority ethnic employment across the private sector with a particular focus on workplace experience. An outcome of the campaign would be a programme of sustained, accessible and relevant support, networking, mentoring, and coaching opportunities for minority ethnic youth and graduates.

24. Case Study examples of current mentoring schemes in Scotland include:

  • Mosaic Mentoring Programme (Princes Trust) - a small scale workplace mentoring scheme in building sites that recruit small groups and show how they can relate to each other. The Scottish Government should consider investigating the feasibility of scaling this up;
  • Joseph Rowntree Foundation demonstration projects, the Wheatley Group and Standard Life;
  • Edinburgh Guarantee Scheme – Developing the young workforce programme. Some thought should be given to helping them to think about job design, and recruitment processes to ensure minority ethnic young people are not discriminated against and have a fair chance in the work place.

Public Investment Programmes

25. I strongly agree with the principle articulated by a range of stakeholders that any organisation/company that is publicly funded should set and publish targets to ensure that they are representative of the taxpayers they deliver for. I also agree that the public sector should use its purchasing power to make this happen.

26. In Scotland at the very least this should apply to Social Care and Transport, and to a number of high profile economic regeneration and infrastructure projects that are in the pipeline such as City Deals, Glasgow Trams and the House-building Programme, all of which incur considerable sums of public investment.

Action 24: The Scottish Government should make public investment conditional upon employers, demonstrating that they are taking action to improve recruitment and career progression for people from minority ethnic communities with the relevant skills. This should include working with the agencies and wider public sector to explore the adoption of stretching equality targets. This should be carefully monitored to ensure that the outcomes are being delivered on the ground.

Action 25: The Scottish Government should review its procurement guidance [1] with a view to maximising its equality provisions. For example: it currently conflates fair work and equality which raises the question – fair work for whom? It should also give clear signals to contractors about what is being sought with respect to equality targets, with examples of what this would look like.

Action 26: The Scottish Government should consider engaging an external agency to provide an advice service to help organisations tendering for contracts meet procurement guidance, including the requirements to evidence that the organisation is an equal opportunities employer when writing their bids.

Action 27: With respect to improving the capacity of the public sector to use procurement as a lever to deliver equality in general and specifically to increase minority ethnic employment and development opportunities, the Scottish Government should:

  • Provide guidance and support to the contracting authority to identify opportunities to advance equality of opportunity in designing their procurements so that these requirements will then flow into the contracts. This would help them assess and monitor the credibility of the contractor's equality plan/provisions so that those that meet the targets are rewarded and those that don't are penalised;
  • Engage with the professional body/training agency that oversees and trains contracting and procurement staff to capacity build and assure the competence of their members and trainees to deliver fair work and equality proof contracts;
  • Within the law, stretch the provisions relating to procurement to do what it would take to shift inequality; building on experience gained from, for instance, inserting community benefit clauses into contracts and from experience elsewhere.


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