Anti-racism in Scotland: progress review 2023

Detailed examination of progress made on commitments contained within the Race Equality Framework (2016-2030) and the Immediate Priorities Plan (2021-2023).

1. Ministerial Foreword

Scotland has a world-renowned reputation for providing a warm and open welcome to those who come to visit or make it their home. Our diversity is something to be celebrated and embraced - spearheading opportunities and innovation that bring value and enhancing the overall richness of our multicultural Scottish society.

In 2016 we published our Race Equality Framework for Scotland 2016 to 2030 (REF), with a vision for Scotland in 2030 to be a country “where people are healthier, happier and treated with respect, and where opportunities, wealth and power are more equally spread.” The REF aims to ensure that this vision is achieved equally for people from all ethnicities, to build a Scotland where we all share a common sense of purpose and belonging.

Since the publication of the previous Race Equality Action Plan (REAP) final report in 2021, we have continued to make progress across many areas, including but by no means limited to education, employment, housing, health and culture. Yet racism persists – in our communities, in our schools and in our workplaces. It is clear that we still have much work to do, and this must be informed by evidence, and by lived experience.

We want Scotland to be a place where every person has the same opportunities and where everyone’s individual needs are recognised and met. The following examples highlight some of the work we are doing to embed antiracism:

  • Our Anti-Racism in Education Programme Anti-Racism in Education Programme(AREP) is putting in place measures to embed anti-racism in schools and early learning and childcare settings, so that racialised[1] minority children, young people and staff experience an education which is inclusive, free from racism and is underpinned by culturally responsive practice. These measures will result in the development of anti-racism[2] education leadership at all levels, the provision of anti-racism professional learning, an increase in the racial diversity of the teaching profession and a better understanding of how to tackle racist incidents when they occur and more importantly, how to prevent them happening in the first place. By embedding anti-racism within the curriculum, all children and young people will learn about the rich and diverse communities in Scotland and the wider world and be able to challenge discrimination and prejudice through an awareness of the behaviours, practices and processes that create injustice in the world.
  • Addressing institutional racism is at the heart of our new Anti-Racist Employment Strategy, which was launched at the end of 2022 and provides practical guidance and support for employers to take an anti-racism and intersectional approach to addressing racial inequality in the workplace.
  • Within Health & Social Care, we are developing an ambitious action plan with a primary focus on delivery of existing commitments made in response to the Expert Reference Group on Covid-19 and Ethnicity - but going beyond these where the evidence indicates improvement is needed. Early priorities include improving access, experience and outcomes for minority ethnic people within health and social care workforce, maternal and infant health, mental health, type 2 diabetes and CVD. Our new Data Strategy for Health and Social Care – ‘Greater access, better insight, improved outcomes: a strategy for data-driven care in the digital age’ (Feb 2023) commits to improving the quality and consistency of protected characteristics data, including ethnicity data, to ensure that equitable care is provided for everyone in Scotland requiring it.

Addressing racism requires systemic change that addresses "baked-in" racism within our economic, political, social and cultural institutions and structures. Systemic and structural change requires long term vision, patience and ongoing commitment from leadership through to grassroots level and across all spheres. In the last eighteen months and since the launch of the Immediate Priorities Plan (IPP), our focus has been on responding to the Expert Reference Group on COVID-19 and Ethnicity (ERG) recommendations. In April 2022, a short-life working group - Anti-Racism Interim Governance Group to Develop National Anti-Racism Infrastructure (AIGG) was established in response to the ERG’s recommendation to establish a more effective accountability and governance infrastructure in Scotland.

The AIGG should be seen as a stepping stone towards the creation of a new Anti-Racism Observatory. The Observatory will provide strategic oversight of anti-racism approaches in Scotland; act as repository to ensure we effectively maintain institutional memory; and will harness the potential of collaborative and co-production approaches involving those with expertise in the anti-racism field as well as those with lived experience. This will be an important step to effecting deep and lasting change, and will allow us to better track progress in reducing inequality – an important National Performance Framework (NPF) outcome.

I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the members of the AIGG for their input to date and whose range of expertise is helping to shape how we achieve our 2030 vision. I also want to thank to our strategic partners for their guidance and dedication to ensuring the rights of racialised minorities are recognised and upheld.

Finally, my heartfelt appreciation also goes out to the organisations funded under our Equality and Human Rights Fund (EHRF) and to the communities they serve. The EHRF's aim is to support civil society organisations and partners to develop, embed and mainstream equality and human rights within policy and practice in Scotland in line with the ambitions of the National Performance Framework and relevant Scottish Government Strategies. In 2021, we approved £21 million of funding for 2021-2024 period, to support equality and human rights in Scotland, an increase of £1 million per year from the previous fund, of which nearly £5.5 million is specifically for organisations working on race equality issues. Through working with these organisations, we have developed a better understanding of the impact of racism on not only racialised minorities, but society as a whole and are better positioned to respond effectively. Going forward, we will continue to engage with our stakeholders and those that represent the voice of lived experience to ensure anti-racism is embedded across all we do.

Emma Roddick

Minister for Equalities, Migration and Refugees



Back to top