Partnership working to form solutions
Partnership working with other organisations can be a good way to identify appropriate solutions, and can create a valuable sense of ownership of actions if the right partners are around the table. This may be informal partnership working, for example where Scottish Government works with a relevant national agency to secure a commitment to delivering actions. On the other hand, it may be a broader approach which brings together expert stakeholders from across the public, voluntary and academic sectors to provide insight and a critical eye on policy making.
A large number of working groups, advisory groups and steering groups have informed national race equality policy over the years. Often, national strategies commit to the creation of these where the action required to address particular inequalities is difficult to identify, or the level of action needed merits a standalone approach.
This is often a valuable way to make policy. However, there are some challenges which need to be overcome for this potential to be realised:
- The people represented on the group all need sufficient practical experience in the relevant policy area; avoiding involvement for involvement's sake
- Capacity building for policy makers on race equality and anti-racism will often be needed, so that group members have a shared understanding to work from
- Senior civil servant or Ministerial level support needs to be available to the group, so that those with sufficient authority can ensure its work is unimpeded, has access to all relevant information and contacts, and that its recommendations are implemented
- Decisions about how to proceed with making and implementing recommendations need to be focussed on what will work to tackle racial inequality (and as discussed previously, civil servants need to feel a sense of leadership and confidence to assert solutions which are evidence based and reflect an anti-racist perspective)
- The temptation to leave aside more innovative or challenging suggestions in favour of suggestions in line with the status quo should be recognised and avoided, but likewise, ambitious but vague or unworkable suggestions should also be set aside
The questions "will it work?", "how will it work?" and "how will we know if it worked?" should be omnipresent in the process of identifying solutions, especially where a variety of partners and stakeholders wish to present their own preferred solutions. These are the questions which enable a possible solution to become a concrete action.