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).

9. Theme 3: Participation and Representation

Vision: Minority ethnic participation and representation is valued, effective, fair and proportionate at all levels of political, community and public life.

Participation in political and public life is crucial to empowering individuals and groups. It is essential to eliminating marginalisation and discrimination. It is inseparably linked to other human rights, such as the rights to freedom of opinion and expression and the rights to peaceful assembly and association. The key purpose of participation is to shift power.

As outlined in the Scottish Government Participation Framework (See Goal 12), those facing the greatest inequalities also face the greatest barriers to participating in decision and policy making processes. These include direct and indirect discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, birth, disability, nationality or other status. Participation methods must be designed with equality, equity and inclusivity in the forefront, otherwise inequality continues to be reproduced and power is not shifted. This is a vicious circle – without understanding the perspectives of those most excluded in our society, policies continue to be designed that do not meet their needs and which continue or even worsen inequality.

The Scottish Government believes that fair, proportionate representation at both local and national levels is essential to achieving racial equality. It is important that the individuals and communities who are at greatest risk of poor outcomes are enabled to contribute to decision making to reach relevant solutions and build capacity and wellbeing.

Increasing social and community participation is also a key focus for Scottish Government. We committed to helping racialised minorities be represented as well as have equal chances to participate across civic and creative life in Scotland, including in the arts, leisure and heritage spaces. This is an essential part of making a better Scotland which values and benefits from the creativity and involvement of all its people. Since the Race Equality Framework was published, we have seen progress being made in this area.

Goal 10: Increase participation and representation of minority ethnic individuals in governance and influence in decision making at local and national level.

Increasing diversity within public body boards

A race equality action plan (2019 – 2022) for Public Appointments was published in 2019. It aimed to encourage people from racialised minorities to apply for public appointments, for those applications to be successful, and for the conditions to be right for people to be able to give their best when they are on a board. The number of racially minoritized people applying and being successful in the appointments process is improving as outlined in the table below.

Applied Reached Shortlist Invited to Interview Appointed
2017 7.0% 7.0% 3.2% 1.8%
2018 6.3% 6.3% 2.8% 3.6%
2019 8.7% 8.7% 4.5% 5.9%
2020 8.5% 8.4% 4.1% 5.6%
2021 10.3% 10.3% 7.3% 8.0%

New appointments made are increasingly diverse:

New appointments made Total (new appts. per year) Women % Race % Disability % Sexual Orientation % Under 50 %
2017 94 53.2% 1.8% 6.3% 5.4% 28.8%
2018 168 52.4% 3.6% 7.1% 7.1% 22.6%
2019 135 48.1% 5.9% 11.9% 3.7% 27.4%
2020 71 53.5% 5.6% 12.7% 5.6% 28.2%
2021 150 46.0% 8.0% 14.0% 6.0% 27.3%

The profile of key protected characteristics of all appointees is as follows:

All public appointees* Total number of appointees Women % Race % Disability % Sexual Orientation % Under 50 %
2017 662 46% 3% 8% 4% 18%
2018 673 49% 3% 7% 5% 18%
2019 704 50% 3% 7% 5% 18%
2020 717 52% 4% 7% 5% 18%
2021 701 51% 4% 8% 5% 18%

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) Board members recently started to receive remuneration, with the aim of attracting greater diversity to the HES Board. While there is no specific mention about the need to diversity board members within the organisations that HES fund, the recent grants refresh does reference diversity and fair work first principles.

Increasing diversity within the honours work

Sir Geoff Palmer is the Honours Independent Reviewer to the Scottish Government and is assisting with the diversity within honours work. The Protocol and Honours team continue to interact with the Honours Champions appointed within each Scottish Government Directorate to discuss their role in promoting honours internally and externally and to increase diversity of nominees. The team will review the quota once results of the latest round and pending Census is released to ensure all people of Scotland are represented proportionally.

Increasing diversity in elected office

The ambition to increase diversity in elected office forms part of the Bute House Agreement (the Shared Agreement with the Green party to build a greener, fairer, independent Scotland) reflected in the commitment to encourage more people to register to vote, to stand as candidates and to remove barriers some people experience so they can vote independently. A number of actions have been undertaken to seek to make progress on increasing diversity in elected office:

  • The Scottish Government funded workshops provided by Elect Her, for women of colour to support them in their political journeys and once they are elected. The workshops were well-attended and attracted positive feedback from participants.
  • In response to the call from organisations and others for more reliable data on. candidates standing for local government elections, the Scottish Government worked closely with a range of stakeholders, including the Electoral Management Board for Scotland, the Electoral Commission, COSLA and the Improvement Service to run a candidate survey for the 2022 Local Government elections. This was published in November 2022.

The Local Government candidate diversity survey suggests that among those who responded (~28% of candidates so a quite low response rate), 6.7% of candidates in 2022 identified as “Asian” or “All other ethnic groups” (rather than “White” or “Prefer not to say”). For those who went on to be elected the figure was 4.0%. We are looking at ways to improve the collection of data in the future as the voluntary approach clearly has its limitations. This survey does however confirm the view that racial minorities are under-represented in local government and more needs to be done.

We recognise that pay may be a barrier to some people standing to become a councillor. The Scottish Government and COSLA have jointly committed to undertake an independent review of Councillor remuneration. The inaugural meeting of the Scottish Local Authorities Remuneration Committee was held in April 2023. A report with recommendations for Ministers will be published at the end of November 2023.

The Scottish Government funds a post based in COSLA until March 2024, to support the work of the Cross-Party Barriers to Elected Office Special Interest Group. The group involves elected members from each of COSLA’s Political Groups, and seeks to identify changes in culture and practices, and support our ambition to deliver greater equality and diversity within local democracy.

Community Councils

The Scottish Government is currently working with COSLA, the Improvement Service and local authorities to update the Community Council Model Scheme of Establishment and associated documents, including updating the Good Practice Guidance for Local Authorities and Community Councils launched in 2009.

The purpose of the guidance is to support the Model Scheme of Establishment of Community Councils as well as provide guidance based on good practice. It provides an overview of the relevant equality and diversity legislation that community councils must be cognisant of, with new community councillors encouraged to read this as part of their induction. It is envisaged the refreshed guidance will be published this year.

Goal 11: Minority ethnic people have a fair and proportionate influence on community planning.

Community Planning and Community Planning Partnerships

Statutory Arrangements for Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs) are in place to take such steps as are reasonable to enable community bodies who wish to participate in community planning to do so. Community participation should inform a clear understanding of distinctive needs and aspirations of communities of place and interest within the CPP area; and decisions about the CPP’s priorities and actions. These duties also apply to how public sector bodies engage with racialised minorities and the bodies that represent them.

Scottish Government has developed participation request guidance in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders for both public service authorities and community bodies to use. Public service authorities are required to follow guidance issued by the Scottish Ministers in carrying out their functions in relation to participation requests. This guidance will be revisited as part of the review of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 which is currently underway (July 2022), and the views of stakeholders across the sector will be taken into consideration. The review will have a particular focus on community ownership and strengthening decision-making to improve outcomes for the local community and should finish in the second half of 2023.

Scottish Government also provides support to the Scottish Community Development Centre, who support community groups engaging with the participation request process. They have produced various accessible guides; a 30-minute easy read introduction to participation requests; a participation request resource pack; FAQ’s; and hosted workshops round the country specifically aimed at community groups experiencing inequality and disadvantage. As part of this work, they have produced an Equal Outcomes Guide to further equality and reduce race inequality.

Third Sector Interfaces

An independent evaluation of Scotland’s Third Sector Interface (TSI) network model was carried out in 2016 which looked at the role, function and effectiveness/impact of the Third Sector Interface network model. The review covered the four main functions of a TSI including ‘Building the relationship with Community Planning: engaging and connecting the Third Sector.’ It also considered the extent to which the TSIs are responsive to the diversity of the community.

The evaluation noted that equalities is one of the core values of the TSI network, and inherent in the common approach. There were numerous examples of where the TSIs promoted equalities within the sector (for example raising awareness of equalities or providing training on equalities and diversity for the Third Sector), and how they worked to promote services and engage with more disadvantaged groups. In more recent times the TSIs have established a nationwide project THRE (Third Sector and Human Rights Equality) to develop resources, training and networks to support third sector organisations towards taking a human rights and equalities first approach to their organisational development and delivery.

There is currently a review of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 underway and findings from this review will help shape recommendations for improvements in increasing participation across communities and reducing inequalities.

Goal: 12 Informal community action within minority ethnic communities is better understood and valued.

The Participation Framework

Engaging with people is an important way to ensure that we get a range of views when developing policies or making decisions. In February 2023, the Scottish Government published the Participation Framework. The Framework was developed as part of Scotland's Open Government action plan commitments and acts as a guide to good practice in participation work across Scottish Government. It includes information about participatory methods and when to use them, guidance on the development of an effective participation strategy, support to carry out informed conversations with colleagues and analysts to develop and deliver effective participation and signposts to further resources. It primarily works to make it clearer for staff what the key questions and considerations are to think about when planning inclusive engagements with people, and what further support and expertise they will require.

This resource is also publicly available so stakeholders and potential participants can inform themselves about Scottish Government’s approach. It will provide a framework to support overall change in Scottish Government to improve the way people take part in open policymaking and delivering services. We are now considering ways in which to better involve those with protected characteristics. We commissioned work by an expert on race equality to better understand what should be included from an antiracism perspective and outcomes from this work have now informed a series of public workshops. We have commissioned two expert facilitators to deliver these workshops which have been designed to consider equality and diversity, as well as inclusive practices with regards to the Participation Framework. A report detailing the outputs from the workshops will be produced and published. Findings from the report will feed into the next iteration of the Participation Framework.

Engaging with racialised minorities

Ensuring that communities are engaged with policy developments, including in long-term oversight and governance, is of utmost importance. We are looking to explore mechanisms and routes to achieve that in the best way possible. At the end of 2022, a programme of work was commissioned to disseminate information on the establishment of an Observatory on ethnicity and racial inequalities, and to gather community members' and organisations' perspectives on the Observatory and how it can work best to deliver genuine change-making policy in Scotland. The Observatory will focus on how best to ensure community involvement in antiracism policy and practice through collaborative and co-production approaches with those most affected by outcomes.

Goal: 13 Promote inclusiveness and participation by making better connections between minority ethnic communities, organisations and institutions involved in heritage, culture, sports and media.

Participation and inclusion in the heritage, culture, sports and media sectors:

Historic Environment Scotland (HES)

The Sponsorship, Funding and Historic Environment Scotland (HES) team engage regularly with Equality leads within sponsored public bodies as outlined in the HES Equality Report 2021. Additionally HES’s Mainstreaming and 2021-25 Equality Outcomes Report provides a review of HES’s first Mainstreaming and Equality Outcomes Report 2017-21.

The following are examples of initiatives and projects that promote inclusion and participation via building better connections with racialised minorities, organisations and institutions:

  • The Managing Imperial Legacies project: A two-year partnership project between HES, the University of Edinburgh, and the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER) funded by a Royal Society of Edinburgh Networking Grant. The project enabled conversations involving academics, heritage organisations, professionals, and communities on the subject. In June 2022, the first phase of the project culminated in a conference hosted by HES. The second phase of the project is underway where a Black artist is working on creating an artwork that will focus on discussions linked to Empire (including but not limited to the transatlantic slave trade) and Scotland’s built environment.
  • West of Scotland Regional Equality Council (WSREC) has secured funding from the Scottish Government’s Workplace Equality Fund (WEF) to work in partnership with Historic Environment Scotland over the next two years. The Partnership Project combines the expertise of a highly experienced third sector equality council, a lead public sector heritage organisation and a specialist collective in leadership development to overcome structural barriers to race equality in the workplace. WSREC will provide Historic Environment Scotland with training, advice and guidance to ensure recruitment campaigns are accessible to racialised minorities through each stage of the process from advertising to hiring. All the work that WSREC has been funded to do is built around the outcomes from Historic Environment Scotland’s Mainstreaming and 2021-25 Equality Outcomes Report Mainstreaming and 2021-25 Equality Outcomes Report.
  • HES has established a new staff network - The Global Diversity Network comprising a group of colleagues from different departments and different parts of the world who want to embrace the cultural diversity within our organisation. Our aim is to ensure that underrepresented voices within HES are heard and that topics that affect them are addressed.

On the 19 April 2023, HES published their Annual Operating Plan 2023-24. HES are committed to improving access to, and widening participation in, Scotland’s historic environment, and there are many examples of how they work with a range of partners to deliver activities that seek to reduce inequalities. HES plan to improve and strengthen their approach, putting the needs and expectations of diverse groups at the heart of our service delivery and shining a light on more hidden histories to widen participation, engagement, and involvement in the historic environment.

As part of HES’s revised Grants programme advice for applicants, the advice states that recent research undertaken by HES shows that engagement with the historic environment can lead to a greater sense of wellbeing. If this is a specific objective of a project, applicants should use appropriate evaluation methods to measure people’s attitudes about wellbeing after they have taken part in the project. Applicants should also consider how to increase the diversity of people who are engaging with the historic environment through any grant-funded activities. This could be by involving new audiences and people of diverse social backgrounds, ethnicities, ages or abilities. Applicants are particularly encouraged to consider how their grant-aided activities can provide opportunities for young people.

Scotland’s Winter Festivals/arts & cultural initiatives

In 2022 budgetary constraints meant a discontinuation of Scotland’s Winter Festivals programmes for the foreseeable future, however other cultural/arts-based work involving people from minority ethnic backgrounds was undertaken: Scotland's Year of Stories (2022) when there were 21 Open Fund events (397,284 in person attendees) and 180 Community Stories events (357,543) involving a number of communities[25] with events offering opportunities for enhanced community engagement, cultural participation, empowerment, fairness and social inclusion; and Dandelion (a time-limited creative project, driven by the concept of “Sow, grow, share” commissioned by EventScotland and funded by the Scottish Government) which in partnership with Black and Ethnic Minority Infrastructure in Scotland

(BEMIS), offered grants of up to £2,000 for twenty-one community groups and non-profit organisations who aimed to start growing their own food and to create opportunities for diverse communities across Scotland to celebrate the results and to take part in the cross-Scotland series of Harvest Festivals in September 2022.

A Culture Strategy for Scotland highlights that everyone should have an equal opportunity to experience culture and aims to make sure everyone can take part in culture throughout their lives. Two of the programmes launched under the auspices of the Culture Strategy demonstrate how we are working to achieve this aim.

The Culture Collective programme launched in November 2020 and has successfully establish a national network, supporting creative practitioners, organisations and communities to work together across Scotland to help shape the future of local cultural life, and to share and learn from each other as they progress. Culture Collective projects were awarded funding on the basis that they provided a considered and actionable commitment to equalities, diversity and inclusion, demonstrating how their approach genuinely engages people in developing the cultural life of their community, how their activity is inclusive and accessible, and the positive outcomes this will achieve.

One of the projects within the Culture Collective portfolio is Art27@Southside which employs artists as catalysts for the reactivation of a traditional community centre, to transform it into a vibrant cultural hub which is relevant, inclusive, reflective and driven by everyone, including the many ethnically diverse communities in its neighbourhood. Everyone has the right to fully and freely participate in the cultural life of their community and Art27@Southside aims to make this happen.

The Creative Communities programme was launched in 2020 and aims to support and empower communities to develop cultural activities. It seeks to extend high quality opportunities for people to take part in culture, including in areas with more limited opportunities and lower levels of cultural engagement. Projects within the programme included the Now You See Me project run by Stronger Together Enterprise which offered artist led workshops for minority ethnic children and young people.

There are obligations which are set out in each National Performing Companies (NPC) annual grant letter as part of the criteria for attaining and maintenance status as an NPC, which work to ensure consideration of the potential impact of resource expenditure on different people in society and across the protected grounds outlined in the Equality Act 2010 to ensure equality of access to culture is protected and promoted, and cost-effectively delivering broad access to music.


sportscotland’s corporate strategy, Sport for Life, sets out the direction for sport and sportscotland. It celebrates how everyone in Scotland can benefit from sport and it sets out their commitment to inclusion underpinning everything they do.

sportscotland’s goal is to build a system that is inclusive by design. Their approach is about creating the environment for change and ensuring equality, diversity and inclusion is embedded in their work. People who are part of diverse ethnic communities are one of sportscotland’s four new focus groups for equality outcomes.

In June 2021, the five Sports Councils responsible for funding sport and physical activity across the UK, published the outcomes of their joint review into Tackling Racism and Racial Inequality in Sport. The review’s findings were based on an extensive analysis of publicly available data on race and ethnicity in sport, as well as research into the lived experiences of more than three hundred people. The review made clear that racism and racial inequalities exist in sport in the UK and have resulted in ethnically diverse communities and individuals being consistently disadvantaged, discriminated against, and excluded from sport and physical activity.

In response to these findings, the Sports Councils made clear their determination to learn from the review and do everything in their power to bring about transformational change to stamp out racism in sport; creating a sporting system that is truly inclusive and representative of UK society. To underline sportscotland’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, sportscotland created a new internal post specifically aimed at driving this work forward.

In January 2023, sportscotland announced a partnership with Sporting Equals. The partnership will focus on making a positive impact in tackling race inequality through building trust, capacity, and capability within the sport system in Scotland, empowering communities to deliver change and strengthening research and communications.

sportscotland also continues to work with and develop partnerships with key Race and Ethnicity focussed bodies, including the Scottish Ethnic Minority Sports Association, Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations (CEMVO), the Scottish Association of Minority Ethnic Educators (SAMEE), and continue to be involved in the Scottish National Diversity Conference and Diversity Awards.

Scottish Screen

In 2022, Screen Scotland launched a pilot of the BFI Diversity Standards, which means productions need to meet those standards to be eligible for funding. The Standards apply across the Protected Characteristics under the Equality Act (including race), as well as seeking to address under-representation in regional participation, socioeconomic background, and caring responsibilities. To meet the Standards, productions must demonstrate their commitment to inclusion, and meet a range of criteria in front of and/or behind the camera. The pilot, which has been extended until April 2024, applies to two of Screen Scotland’s funding streams, but will apply across all streams, following the pilot’s success.

We provided funding support to the National Film and Television School, one of the world’s top film schools, to help them establish a subsidiary in Scotland and a bursary fund to widen diversity and equality in the screen sector.[26]

Through the Workplace Equality Fund, we provided over £20,000 to support The Research Centre’s (known as TRC) rad Scotland programme, a training course where candidates are paid to work full time with a Scottish TV production company. It was developed to address the lack of inclusivity and diversity in broadcasting. The rad Scotland programme continues to support new trainees and returned for a third year in 2022 to support the next generation of diverse TV Talent.[27]

Scottish broadcasting

Note: Broadcasting is reserved, and the broadcasters are independent of government.

In relation to BBC Charter renewal, since 2016 we have delivered a memorandum of understanding that has allowed the Scottish Government (and Scottish Parliament) to play a key role in the BBC Charter renewal. While broadcasting is reserved, we continue to make the case in our communications with UK Government, the broadcasters and the UK communications regulator Ofcom on the need to improve diversity in broadcasting both on and off screen. This includes responding to Ofcom’s consultation, to review its diversity in Broadcasting Workforce Surveys. The Scottish Government supports improvements in data collection, which enable a better understanding of areas of underrepresentation in the industry and allow monitoring of broadcasters’ efforts to improve representation through their diversity and inclusion work.

Scottish media

The Scottish Government short-life Public Interest Journalism Working Group published its recommendations on developing a sustainable future for public interest journalism in Scotland on 17 November 2021. The Working Group’s key recommendation was to establish an independent Scottish Public Interest Journalism Institute. In the report, the Working Group envisaged the Institute would play a role in supporting and upskilling marginalised communities wishing to establish their own trusted news and information sources, to ensure a level playing field for their entry into the sector. The Working Group also envisaged the Institute would encourage people from backgrounds typically under-represented in journalism to enter the profession and remain in it.

The Scottish Government welcomed the Working Group’s recommendation on the Institute and convened a Roundtable on 23 November 2022 to consider the best model for an Institute, and to transition the Working Group into a new Steering Group, with a remit to consider how best to deliver the Institute. Once established, the Institute will be independent of government, to ensure the clear separation of press and state.

Empire, Slavery and Scotland’s Museums Steering Group

Our 2020-21 Programme for Government, set out a commitment to sponsor an independent expert group to recommend how Scotland’s existing and future museum collections can better recognise and represent a more accurate portrayal of Scotland’s colonial and slavery history. A review into Scottish Government race equality over 20 years, by the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER) in 2021 found inequalities exist in cultural participation for individuals from racialised minorities, including within the historic environment, arts and creative industries.

Since then an Empire, Slavery & Scotland’s Museums Steering Group led by Sir Geoff Palmer was established to consider what form the museum would take, its scope, and, whether a physical museum is recommended. To inform this process, the expert group led a national consultation in collaboration with CRER and Glasgow Life to understand both public and expert perspectives, and to ensure all views on how Scotland's museums can contribute to our understanding of the legacies of empire, colonialism, and slavery were considered. The consultation launched on 16 September and closed on 7 November 2021.

In June 2022, informed by the consultation analysis, the expert group made 6 recommendations about how Scotland’s involvement in empire, colonialism, and historic slavery can be addressed using museum collections and museum spaces. If followed, the recommendations could address some of the concerns identified by CRER; including encouraging racialised groups to be engaged in heritage and culture; fostering greater social cohesion; reducing levels of isolation; the realisation of creative potential and undiscovered talent; and building good relationships at a community level.

Ministerial meetings have been held with members of the group and other interested stakeholders. The Scottish Government response to the recommendations will be issued in summer 2023.

John Smith Minority Ethnic Emerging Leaders Programme

In 2022 the Scottish Government funded fifty places on the John Smith Minority Ethnic Emerging Leaders Programme. The programme provided young people with a nine-month long internship across the public, third or private sector organisations, backed by mentoring, and living wage placements. Its focus was on developing the professional and personal skills of participants, including negotiating and communication with the aim of breaking down barriers for minority ethnic young people wishing to access and contribute to public service.

At the end of the programme, over 95% of the programme participants reported an improvement in their leadership, negotiation and influencing, presentation, organisational and research skills while on the programme. By the end of their internships eleven participants had secured full time employment, seven had secured part time employment and three were undertaking a new internship or placement. A further ten participants were in tertiary education and three had applied to study at degree level. Due to its success the Minority Ethnic Emerging Leaders Programme was nominated for a SAMEE Award.



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