Arrangements for reporting progress under the Act will be set out in regulations – and the consultation document sought views on draft regulations. The draft guidance provides further information on how reporting should take place. This includes the content of reports, the approach to publication, and how reports should be submitted to Scottish Ministers.
Do you have any comments on the guidance on meeting the reporting requirements? If so, please let us know.
The main theme that emerged from the feedback was concern around the use of the term "gender" and the definition of "woman" for the purposes of the Act.
The following provides details of specific comments made on the guidance relating to arrangements for reporting progress under the Act:
- Respondents suggested that the guidance should more comprehensively set out the minimum expectations of reports alongside recommendations for best practice. This should include deadlines and expectations on the level of detail to be reported on by public authorities (including intersectional data).
- Respondents felt that there was a need to set out in the guidance that reports should justify why measures were not considered appropriate under Section 5 and Section 6 of the Act if no steps had been implemented, as paragraph 6.9 only specifies that reports should state that no steps were taken.
- Respondents recommended that boards continue to report on any additional measures beyond those under Section 5 of the Act post-2022.
- Respondents proposed that the guidance could be amended at paragraph 6.13 to make clear that boards may continue to add in other steps explored to improve board diversity, including measures aimed at diverse groups of women and other protected characteristics.
- While respondents mentioned that there was no requirement to report on activity which encourages applications from people who identify with other protected characteristics, doing so might demonstrate good practice in increasing diversity beyond legislative compliance.
- Respondents suggested that the guidance relating to publication of reports should stress the importance of accountability. It was felt that reports should be published in the most transparent way possible. Respondents emphasised that public accountability is the sole enforcement mechanism created by the Act, and it is therefore vital that reporting is robust in order that the purpose of the Act be achieved in the long term.
- Feedback from respondents was that the requirements for appointing persons and public authorities are complex, particularly around what information is required to be provided by authorities and by when. One respondents suggested that it may be better to have this in a table format.
- Respondents felt that it may be helpful for the guidance to encourage appointing persons and public authorities to make it clear where they have met the reporting requirements, when the requirements are integrated into other reports. Otherwise it may be challenging to extract the information to inform Ministers' reports.
Wider comments provided by respondents regarding reporting included that reports:
- Must include statistics on biological sex.
- Be open to public scrutiny.
- Must be open and transparent.
Flexibility in reporting was also welcomed. However, where progress reporting was included in other reports (e.g. PSED), it was felt that this should be an easily identifiable section.