Culture and behaviours in the Scottish Government: progress report

Implementation plan progress 2021 and the continuous improvement programme.

Culture and behaviours in the Scottish Government

The Scottish Government’s response to the three investigations into its handling of complaints about the former First Minister was published in June 2021.

The annex set out an implementation plan to respond to the findings of the review led by Laura Dunlop QC, the Harassment Committee’s report and James Hamilton’s report.

Our own internal lessons report looked at the broad range of initiatives on culture and behaviours that exist within the SG and these lessons, as well as the three reports, informed the implementation plan. 

In the interest of transparency, the government proactively published the lessons in the Culture and Behaviours report alongside the Committee, Dunlop and Hamilton findings.

It is essential that the updated procedure is viewed in the context of this wider improvement work on culture and behaviours.

The ultimate test for an updated procedure is how our staff and Ministers will feel about it and how trusting and confident they will be that the organisation will set a positive and supportive culture where bullying and harassment is addressed fairly and swiftly. 

The updated procedure is set with this broader understanding. There is a wraparound programme of support already underway and this will be the central element of a continuous improvement programme.

We have invested time in listening to those staff who have lived experience of the issues, and distilling the learning from those conversations. This learning has given us a foundation on which to build an improvement programme to wrap around the development of the updated procedure.

We know that for the implementation of the procedure to be successful, it must sit within a supportive culture designed to improve a culture of openness and inclusion. The cultural conditions needed to enable people to come forward with issues from a position of confidence and trust. The ongoing work supporting the embedding of our organisational values - integrity, innovation, collaboration, inclusion, kindness - will provide the corporate context in which to do this. 

The aim is to rebuild confidence in our complaints process and improve the effectiveness of our arrangements for managing issues involving propriety and ethics.

We are listening and acting on feedback from staff who have experience of the Scottish Government’s formal Fairness at Work (FAW) process, and those who have a role in the process, through a collaborative project between the Scottish Government and the Council of Scottish Government Unions (CSGU).  This feedback is informing improvements to the way we approach grievance handling, as well as informing policy and procedure.

In order to demonstrate that the updated procedure is not to be viewed in isolation,  as the shape of the updated procedure and the refresh of Fairness At Work develops, we have done some thinking on medium to longer term to develop the implementation plan that was published in response to the harassment reports into a Continuous Improvement Programme.

This plan sets out the actions we have completed in the implementation plan and those that lead from it, sets out what we have in train, and what we intend to do by the end of 2022.

We will review the effectiveness of the programme and set out its future direction in 2023.

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