Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights - anti-racist policy making: review

Findings of a research programme into Scottish race equality strategies since 2000. The Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER) was commissioned to support the implementation of this review, with a focus on exploring opportunities for better practice.

Overarching issues

Race Equality Framework for Scotland 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.


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

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

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

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

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

Key themes

Overarching issues were the subject of 182 of the commitments and actions analysed.

The most common type of activity recorded within this theme was capacity building. A total of 44 commitments and actions related to this. These were primarily relating to staff training on race equality or provision of guidance and resources.

Examples of capacity building activity included:

  • Sector-specific race equality training, through both induction and continuing professional development
  • Race equality training opportunities tailored for specific groups of staff, for example policy makers or senior managers
  • Provision of 'good practice' guidance and opportunities to share practice
  • Activities aimed at creating organisational culture change and dialogue on race and racism
  • Events organised for an internal or external stakeholder audience, looking at different aspects of race equality
  • Funding for capacity building posts focussed on race equality

Strategic actions (for example related to accountability and transparency, leadership, implementation and progress reporting on race equality) were common throughout the publications. In all, 42 of the commitments and actions analysed under this theme related to strategic activity.

Examples of strategic activity included:

  • Development of implementation and progress tracking mechanisms for race equality strategies
  • External scrutiny arrangements
  • Activities intended to demonstrate leadership and accountability on race equality
  • Personal and departmental performance objectives, targets and KPIs related to race equality
  • Commitments to develop additional plans, such as delivery plans, in support of strategies
  • Setting up of advisory groups, operational groups or stakeholder groups

Activities to strengthen the availability and use of data and evidence for policy making on race equality were also common, with 24 commitments and actions recorded.

Examples of data and evidence related activity included:

  • Standardising ethnicity classifications for data collection
  • Workforce equality monitoring
  • Social justice research programmes with a race equality focus
  • Incorporating more disaggregated ethnicity data within regular existing data and research outputs
  • Increasing policy makers' access to evidence on racial inequalities

Commitments to address race equality implications within work on mainstream policies featured relatively often, with 17 actions and commitments in this area.

The remaining commitments and actions related to:

  • Activities targeted at improving equality overall for specific groups, including new migrants (particularly regarding meeting language needs) and Gypsy/Travellers
  • Involving minority ethnic communities, consultation and community engagement (only examples of general commitments to involve people are referred to here; where involvement clearly related to participation in a policy making process, this is reflected at the section on Participation and Representation)
  • Awareness raising, promotion or marketing activities aimed at minority ethnic groups (again, where this was a general commitment – such activities around a specific policy area are reflected throughout the following sections)
  • Work to meet the public sector equality duties
  • Activity to be undertaken within the Voluntary Sector or wider public sector using Scottish Government / Scottish Executive funding or procurement

Progress reporting on overarching issues, by its nature, tended to focus on initiatives to improve policy and process. Although many activities were carried out which will have contributed to the potential effectiveness of race equality policy, the outcome of this cannot be established from progress reporting.

Substantial changes took place over time in implementation planning, the type of progress reporting carried out, and arrangements for input and scrutiny both internally and externally. The fact that no particular mechanisms for these were settled upon suggests that no ideal formula for supporting the implementation of race equality policy has yet been identified.

Considerations for future policy

Comparing the range of previous commitments and actions in this area with the visions and goals of the Race Equality Framework, clear opportunities emerge to strengthen overarching approaches to race equality.

In planning future work to implement the Race Equality Framework, opportunities which Scottish Government may want to consider include:

  • Developing clear mechanisms for leadership, responsibility and accountability on race equality across all directorates, including levers for ensuring commitments and actions are implemented and reported on in a timely fashion
  • Creating joined-up approaches to capacity building, particularly in light of the commitments on training for public sector staff within the Race Equality Framework for Scotland
  • Planning an approach going forward from the end of the Equality Evidence Strategy 2017-2021 which addresses 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)
  • Seeking opportunities to use procurement and funding processes to lever equality commitments from external organisations through contract compliance
  • Maximising the potential of the new Equality and Human Rights Fund by embedding criteria and evaluation processes that support evidence based approaches to tackling inequalities and promoting equality

In addition to informing work to implement the Race Equality Framework, many of these overarching considerations will link to the work which will be undertaken to address the recommendations of the Expert Reference Group on Covid-19 and Ethnicity.[6]

Further exploration of overarching issues and related concepts is carried out in the following section on learning for policy, process and practice.

For the remaining areas of the Race Equality Framework for Scotland, a brief overview of statistical and research trends since devolution[7] will be given to identify the extent to which racial inequalities have reduced. At best, this can only demonstrate correlation with national policy rather than causation, and external social, economic and political factors will also have an impact on change over time.



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