On Board: a guide for members of statutory boards

Guidance for all those appointed under statute to be members of the boards of public bodies in Scotland.

Diversity, Equality and Human Rights


The Scottish Ministers expect all public bodies to champion diversity and mainstream equal opportunities. Equality, diversity and inclusion need to become central to the work and the way the public bodies operate. The Board should give specific consideration to the impact on equality of opportunity when developing policies and making decisions. The Board should also look at how information can be presented to different groups in formats that best suit their needs and find ways of consulting effectively with people with different needs and backgrounds.

Scottish Ministers particularly welcome applications for public appointments from groups that are under-represented on Scotland's public bodies, with the aim of ensuring that Boards of public bodies are broadly reflective of the wider Scottish population and have a gender balance by 2020. Public bodies are expected to take positive action to support and enable greater diversity of Ministerial appointments, through:

  • taking an active role in succession planning, and providing advice to Ministers about the Board's membership needs, both for new and re-appointments;
  • ensuring that suggested criteria for the selection of new Board members meet the needs of the body, are unbiased and are not unnecessarily restrictive;
  • taking action both during and between Board member recruitment exercises to attract the broadest range of candidates to the work of the Board;
  • providing mentoring, shadowing and training opportunities for potential Board members; and
  • establishing a succession planning committee.

From April 2017, public authorities are required to report on the steps they are taking towards diversity amongst their members in terms of relevant protected characteristics. This will be through the mainstreaming reports that are published every two years as part of the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012 and should form part of Board succession planning.


Equality and fairness are at the heart of the Scottish Government's ambition for a socially just and inclusive Scotland. They are central to its purpose, outcomes and approach to public service reform.

The public sector equality duty in the Equality Act 2010 came into force in April 2011 - this is often referred to as the general duty. Scottish public authorities must have 'due regard' to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations. Scottish Ministers made regulations in May 2012 placing specific duties on Scottish public authorities, as defined in the regulations, to enable the better performance of the public sector equality duty. These are also known as the Scottish Specific Duties.

Public bodies should ensure that they operate in a way which promotes equality of opportunity and all policies must meet the requirements of equality legislation.

Human Rights

Under the Human Rights Act 1998, it is unlawful for a public body to act in a way that is incompatible with a right under the European Convention on Human Rights. The Board should seek assurances from the Chief Executive that the policies and procedures in place within the public body are compatible with Convention rights. The Board should also be committed to protecting the privacy of individuals in relation to how personal information is used as required by the Data Protection Act 1998.



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