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).

7. Theme 1: Overarching work

Vision: Our Vision for a fairer Scotland is that by 2030 Scotland is a place where people are healthier, happier and treated with respect, and where opportunities, wealth and power are spread more equally. The Race Equality Framework aims to ensure that this vision is achieved equally for people from all ethnicities, helping to build a Scotland where we all share a common sense of purpose and belonging.

The Scottish Government is clear that there is no place for racism or intolerance within our society. Diversity and equality, which includes embedding antiracism, should be at the heart of all our policies. Strategic areas of work including policy and planning provide the foundation for promoting race equality across the work of the Scottish Government and other public bodies. Over the last two years we have undertaken the groundwork required to help ensure we have the right strategic environment to assist us achieve success across the other themes contained within the REF.

Goal 1: An accountable approach to support and drive forward the implementation of the Race Equality Framework is established.

Accountability and scrutiny of race equality work in Scotland

In November 2021, in responding to Recommendation 7 of the Expert Reference Group on Covid-19 and Ethnicity it was agreed by Scottish Government to set up new oversight, governance and accountability structures to begin to address processes that create and reinscribe racialised systemic inequity. The initial step in this process was the establishment of the Anti-Racism Interim Governance Group to Develop National Anti-Racism Infrastructure (AIGG) in April 2022. The AIGG was established to advise the Scottish Government on the establishment of a National Anti-Racism Observatory (which will incorporate an oversight role, amongst other functions). The AIGG has worked tirelessly over the last year to fulfil its remit to consider, gather evidence, and propose the model to support the establishment of this observatory which will embed the following elements:

  • An Anti-Racism Observatory which brings together quantitative and qualitative data on ethnic and racial inequalities in Scotland. This should not only include epidemiological data but also cultural, historical and other socio political and economic factors.
  • A repository which holds historical and current evidence from arrange of different sources to maintain awareness and inform actions.
  • Collaboration that reflects the consensus between the Scottish Government and all other relevant stakeholders that Scotland needs to better engage with the experiences of those racialised in society.
  • Co-production processes led by those who are most affected by its outcomes.

The AIGG has undertaken work to introduce a robust accountability process. They will provide feedback and recommendations directly to Scottish Ministers following the first iteration of this process that took place in January 2023, assessing progress made against actions in the Race Equality Immediate Priorities Plan (IPP). The AIGG also commissioned participatory work to engage with racialised minorities and communities across Scotland to ensure they are informed and engaged with the work being done in establishing the Observatory and progressing anti-racism in Scotland.

Goal 2: Strategic work within Scotland's public sector better addresses race equality, including through more effective practice linked to the Scottish Specific Public Sector Equality Duties.

Review of the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED)

The Scottish Government is committed to reviewing the operation of the PSED in Scotland. As part of this, we ran a public consultation from December 2021 to April 2022, containing a series of detailed and ambitious proposals for changes to the PSED regime. This included proposals to extend the current duty on gender pay gap reporting to include ethnicity (alongside disability), with an appropriate reporting threshold to ensure that individuals cannot be identified on the basis of their protected characteristics. The analysis of responses to the consultation report was published 30 November 2022. The review was paused in June 2023 because the team working on it were re-deployed to support the Scottish Government’s response to the Ukraine resettlement crisis. The review restarted in early 2023 and later this year, we will engage further with stakeholders to ensure that revised regulations – and the implementation environment around them – can help to deliver our goal of better outcomes for those who continue to experience inequality.

Equality and Human Rights Mainstreaming Strategy

The Scottish Government is driving an ambitious and progressive agenda to ensure equality, inclusion and human rights are embedded in all we do. The 2022/23 Programme for Government stated our commitment to mainstreaming equality and human rights throughout government and the public sector. This was recently reaffirmed by the new First Minister in April 2023 when he published the Scottish Government's new policy prospectus. An Equality and Human Rights Mainstreaming Strategy is in development which will include competence and culture as a key theme. Following a period of intense stakeholder engagement, the strategy will proceed to formal consultation in late 2023, with publication of the strategy scheduled for later in 2024. As part of this, consideration is being given to developing a comprehensive knowledge and skills framework for Equality and Human Rights in the public sector which would allow more effective embedding into induction and continuing professional development (CPD).

The Strategy will be underpinned by a comprehensive approach to improving data collation and analysis and will ensure that the voices of those impacted shape our approach and policies. As part of the development of the Mainstreaming Strategy we are building the capability and capacity of public sector staff to embed equality and human rights in their work including using equality and human rights data and evidence to develop sound, inclusive policies and services. A stronger and more complete equality evidence base will support the collective effort across the public sector to fulfil the requirements of the Public Sector Equality Duty, including conducting Equality Impact Assessments. The publication of Scotland's new Equality Evidence Strategy in March 2023 highlights action to make equality evidence more wide-ranging and robust, enabling policy makers to develop sound, inclusive policy (see goal 4 for more information).

Human Rights Bill

Plans to introduce world-leading human rights legislation in Scotland were announced in March 2021. The new Human Rights Bill will incorporate four United Nations Human Rights treaties into Scots law, including legislation to strengthen human rights for women, disabled people and racialised minorities. The new Bill, which will be introduced during the current parliamentary session, will give effect to a wide range of internationally recognised human rights, within the limits of devolved competence, from the following treaties:

  • the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR);
  • the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW);
  • the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and;
  • the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

The Scottish Government is benefitting from the ongoing engagement and constructive input of stakeholders – in particular, our Human Rights Lived Experience Board, Advisory Board and Executive Board – while developing this legislation, with a consultation paper published on the 15th June 2023.The responses to the consultation and continued input of stakeholders will help to inform development of the Human Rights Bill.

Positive Action Guidance for employers

In 2020, the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee published a report following its inquiry into race equality, employment and skills to look at what positive action measures, as per the Equality Act 2010, public authorities have taken to improve employment practice for racialised minorities, and what more can be done to deliver further progress. Since then, work has begun to develop guidance for employers on how to apply positive action measures when considering recruitment and retention of racialised minorities. This guidance will be extended to include positive action measures in relation to other protected characteristics, including sex, age, pregnancy and disability, and will be finalised by the end of 2024.

As part of the work of the Cross Justice Working Group on Race Data and Evidence and the Cross Justice Working Group on Race and Workforce (discussed further under Theme 2: Community Cohesion and Safety, Goal 7), the EHRC was invited to present to members of these working groups on the PSED, which has supported their understanding of the requirements on public bodies to collect and report equality data under the PSED.

Goal 3: Scotland's public sector has improved capacity to tackle racial inequality and meet the needs of minority ethnic people.

Accessibility - improved translation and interpretation services

Scottish Government has worked closely with stakeholders to ensure messages from key marketing campaigns reach all geographies and seldom heard communities, including racialised groups, in an inclusive way. During the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic there were many communications work streams dedicated to improving availability of translations and accessible formats. Ongoing stakeholder relationships have helped shape Scottish Government marketing activities and allowed increased reach and message penetration across communities via community trusted voices. Key learnings, gained through working with public and third sector partners, are currently being disseminated to share knowledge of language and accessibility requirements.

The Scottish Government has aimed to increase awareness of the Interpreting, Translation and Transcription Services Framework via targeted communications to public sector bodies, local authorities and the third sector. This framework has been in place since November 2021 and runs until November 2025, and covers:

  • Face-to-face, remote video and telephone interpreting
  • Translation and transcription services
  • Text to speech (audio)

Further work is required to ensure collaboration across organisations to share best practice and signpost to translation, interpretation and transcription services. To ensure service users can be supported more reliably and consistently, it will be an area of focus for the newly established Observatory.

As part of our review into the operation of the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) in Scotland (outlined above) we are proposing to create a new duty that would seek to ensure inclusive communication is embedded proportionately across the work of listed authorities when they are communicating with the public. The details of this requirement are yet to be decided and will be developed after engagement with stakeholders throughout the course of 2023, but we intend to adopt a wide definition of inclusive communication that would include translation and interpretation into other languages.

Promoting race equality and diversity issues across public bodies

We recognise that a more concerted effort is required to promote race equality and diversity issues across public bodies and local authorities. Future focus will be with senior management forums, equality and HR networks and with Scottish Government sponsorship teams to ensure public bodies are fulfilling this goal. The recently launched Leading to Change Programme is a great example of current work being undertaken to promote race equality and promote diversity within the health, social work and social care workforces in the public, independent and third sectors. The programme aims to identify and equip systems leaders at all levels with the skills to lead with kindness and inclusion, utilising a collaborative approach (see section 12 – Health & Home; Goal 29, to read more about this work).

As part of the Mainstreaming Strategy, culture and competence will be included as key themes, and consideration is being given to developing a comprehensive knowledge and skills framework for Equality and Human Rights in the public sector which would allow more effective embedding into induction and continuing personal development (CPD).

In September 2022 Police Scotland launched its Policing Together Strategy which brings together multiple strands of work already in progress within Police Scotland to improve equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI). This has been bolstered by the Chief Constable’s commitment to ensure there is no tolerance for misogyny, racism and discrimination in the ranks or across wider society. The strategy also outlines the action Police Scotland are taking to champion equality and inclusion so that Police Scotland tackles discrimination and becomes a Service where every officer and member of staff can flourish and thrive with the knowledge, they are welcome and valued for their true and authentic selves.

In November 2022, we initiated discussions with the Scottish Councils’ Equality Network (SCEN) to consider how they can best work with local authorities to meet the goals and visions of the Race Equality Framework. Specific actions taken by each local authority will be dependent on the population of each area and identified needs. Where data is not already known nor readily available within local authorities, further work to improve this has been encouraged.

An example of good practice is North Lanarkshire Council, where the Wellbeing & Tackling Poverty Committee has approved a 2023-2024 race equality action plan which sets out clear, measurable and timebound actions to advance race equality in their workforce, their communities and their schools. This was informed by a report they developed which provided details on:

  • the extensive quantitative and qualitative information gathering that was undertaken by the Council to understand the experiences of North Lanarkshire’s minority ethnic workforce, communities and schools' environments;
  • a summary of what the information means;
  • what they have achieved to date;
  • the action plans now in place to address the issues that have arisen from this work; and
  • how the plans will be implemented, monitored and reviewed.

Race for Human Rights Programme (R4HR)

The Scottish Government provides funding to our strategic partner the Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations (CEMVO) to implement their R4HR programme. The development of the R4HR programme has been in response to the changing landscape of human rights law in Scotland and legal requirements placed on public bodies to protect, fulfil and respect human rights.

The aim of the R4HR programme is to support public service providers embed race equality and human rights in their strategic planning and day-to-day functions, through the adoption of anti-racism and human rights-based approaches. Work has included delivering training and learning webinars, the dissemination of good policies and practice, facilitating the Ethnic Minority Women’s Network and the provision of support to mainstream organisations to engage with racialised minorities.

Goal 4: Policy processes in Scotland are based on a robust range of data on ethnicity.

Equality Data Improvement Programme (EDIP)

The Scottish Government and its agencies collect, analyse and publish evidence by equality characteristics across a wide range of policy areas. We know that there are many barriers and challenges to collecting, analysing and reporting intersectional equality data and, despite improvements in recent years, there remain significant gaps in Scotland’s equality evidence base. In April 2021 we launched the first phase of our Equality Data Improvement Programme (EDIP) to take action to make equality evidence more wide-ranging and robust, enabling policy makers to develop sound, inclusive policy. A stronger and more complete equality evidence base will support the collective effort across the public sector to fulfil the requirements of the Public Sector Equality Duty.

The publication of Scotland's new Equality Evidence Strategy in March 2023, covering the years 2023 to 2025, marked the conclusion of the first phase of the EDIP. The first phase helped to build appropriate understanding and evidence to ensure that the new strategy is based on a good understanding of the challenges and opportunities. It also allowed time for the updated Mainstreaming Equality and Human Rights Strategy to be further developed so that data improvement can align fully with this approach.

In autumn 2021 an internal network of lead analysts covering all ministerial portfolios completed an audit of equality data collected and published in key datasets used to produce official or national statistics, update National Performance Framework (NPF) indicators, and inform significant ministerial decision making. The results of this audit were used to develop an action plan for equality data improvement across the Scottish Government and including National Records of Scotland (NRS).

The Scottish Government carried out a public consultation[23] in summer 2022 on the draft action plan and commissioned the external analysis of responses. The responses received through this consultation helped to shape this plan, which formed the basis of the new Equality Evidence Strategy. The new Equality Evidence Strategy re-examines key aspects such as the vision and purpose (via engagement with stakeholders) and is accompanied by an Equality Data Improvement Plan which sets out key milestones and priorities to filling equality gaps rather than just identifying them.

The consultation sits within our wider planned approach to engaging with stakeholder organisations throughout the development of the Equality Evidence Strategy 2023-25. Alongside the written consultation we also recently carried out a series of stakeholder engagement events to develop a shared vision for equality data improvement, and to further understand what practical steps the Scottish Government can take to address the barriers to collecting, analysing and using equality evidence.

Our equality data platform, the Equality Evidence Finder, has been updated with a range of new equality evidence, including revising school leaver attainment and destinations data across the characteristics of disability, ethnicity, and gender, plus socio-economic status. Work continues to ensure that the Equality Evidence Finder is as effective as possible at providing clear and accessible equality data. It is important that we take on board CRER’s recommendation to “address the remaining gaps and standardisation issues with ethnicity data (particularly around reporting on the National Performance Framework and on ensuring granular disaggregation of data to match Scotland’s Census ethnicity categories).”[24] It should be noted that the NPF team are reliant on other Scottish Government analytical areas to provide the required data to achieve this.

Linking Equalities Data with the Census

Work is being overseen by Research Data Scotland with the support of Public Health Scotland (PHS), the Scottish Government, NRS and the University of Edinburgh to create an equalities dataset for research. This project will draw together anonymised protected characteristics data (including ethnicity) from a range of sources, including census data. The approach has been informed by engagement with equalities groups and members of the public to ensure the project is ethical and accountable Work to produce this dataset is ongoing, alongside the Scottish Government’s EDIP. The aim of the project is to develop as complete a picture of the protected characteristics across the Scottish population as possible using existing administrative and census data. This will allow research and statistics to be produced for public bodies who want to monitor and understand the equality of access to, and impact of, their services.

The initial dataset has been assembled and tested, however, during 2023 a proof-of-concept project will be established, linking the dataset as part of a research study administrative data, to test fitness-for-purpose for carrying out equalities research. In addition, the demand for the dataset in its current form by researchers, needs to be established and processes for improving and maintaining the dataset are required. The dataset needs to be aligned with other ethnicity data improvements initiatives in PHS and elsewhere and an approach for public engagement agreed.

A programme of work focused on improving the evidence base around ethnicity and the justice system is underway and discussed further under REF Theme 2: Community Cohesion and Safety (Goal 7).

Another programme of work focusing on improving ethnicity data within health and social care is underway and is discussed in detail under the REF Theme 6: Health and Home (Goal 27).

Goal 5: Scotland's minority ethnic voluntary sector is stronger, more effective and sustainable.

Since October 2021, the Scottish Government Equality and Inclusion Division has provided funding to fourteen race equality organisations, through the Equality and Human Rights Fund to deliver a range of activities and initiatives related to areas such as health and wellbeing, supporting access to education, policy development, legal and welfare rights advice, advocacy, and raising awareness of anti-racism through a human rights lens. The fourteen funded organisations are:

The Scottish Government anticipates that new Grant Offer Letters will be issued to the above listed organisations for the period April-September 2024, and that this funding round will end in September 2024, as originally planned. We are in the initial stages of planning a review of the current Equality and Human Rights Fund to inform the development of a new funding programme, which we anticipate would commence in October 2024.

Given the pressure on public finances, all expenditure must be justified; Equality and Human Rights funding is no exception to this. As a result, there may be changes to a new funding programme. We will update relevant stakeholders when we have more information.



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