Scottish Budget 2019-2020: Equality and Fairer Scotland statement

An Equality and Fairer Scotland assessment of proposed spending plans by ministerial portfolios for 2019 to 2020.

This document is part of a collection

Chapter 3 The Scottish Government as an Employer

The Scottish Government is subject to the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012, which require public authorities to mainstream equality across all functions and to set equality outcomes. These aim to bring practical improvements in the life chances of those who experience discrimination and disadvantage. Our progress towards mainstreaming equality and achieving our equality outcomes will be reported in full in April 2019.

This chapter provides a snapshot of the progress the Scottish Government has made and the main priorities for spending over 2019-20 in order to deliver on our equality obligations and the Fairer Scotland Duty as an employer.

Our Vision as an Employer

The Scottish Government has recently signed a Fair Work agreement with our recognised Trade Unions which sets out our commitment to being a model Fair Work employer. Our ambition is to be a world-leading, diverse employer where people can be themselves at work. We are committed to building a workforce with a wide range of backgrounds, perspectives and experiences, in which employees are valued for their unique contributions in an environment which is respectful and free of discrimination, harassment or bullying.

This is delivered through two equality outcomes. These outcomes were set in April 2017 and developed through extensive consultation with external stakeholders and Ministers:

  • Outcome 1 - our workforce increases in diversity to reflect the general Scottish population by 2025.
  • Outcome 2 - foster an inclusive workforce culture and value the contribution of employees from all backgrounds.

The Scottish Government developed these outcomes because research evidence shows that a more inclusive workplace is more productive and innovative, and because we believe that increased diversity drives better decision making. In being truly reflective of the society it serves, the Scottish Government as a whole will be better recognised within society - gaining broader insights, engaging more fully with all of our stakeholders and ultimately better supporting Ministers to make decisions that benefit the entire Scottish population.

The spirit of our outcomes is embedded in our vision to be a more open, capable and responsive organisation. This vision is being implemented through a corporate improvement plan by the People Directorate - the People Plan - which aims for the Scottish Government to be "highly regarded as an inclusive employer". It also sets a challenge for the Scottish Government to take action in making our organisation fully diverse in background and thought, and to demonstrate a supportive, fair and inclusive culture where all employees can thrive and perform at their best. Our People Plan describes a collaborative and inclusive approach to delivering its work streams. It includes a dedicated work stream of "Building a diverse and inclusive culture", as well as having diversity and inclusion threaded explicitly across all the other priorities, thus demonstrating the interdependencies and collaborative focus required to achieve the outcomes.

Workforce Data

As of September 2018:

  • With respect to gender - our gender balance was 52 per cent women and 48 per cent men, with women comprising 44 per cent of the Senior Civil Service.
  • With respect to race - of those reporting, 2 per cent identified as minority ethnic versus 4 per cent of the working-age population.
  • With respect to disability - of those reporting, 12 per cent self-declared as disabled versus 19 per cent of the working-age population.
  • With respect to sexual orientation - of those reporting, 5 per cent identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or other versus 2 per cent of the working-age population.
  • With respect to age - people aged 16-29 years represent 14 per cent of our workforce versus 28 per cent of the working-age population.
  • With respect to religion and belief - of those reporting, 37 per cent identified as Christian, 2 per cent as other and 54 per cent as none versus 44 per cent, 3 per cent and 51 per cent of the working-age population, respectively.

Our annual People Survey gives key data on employees' experience of inclusion, as measured by the Inclusion and Fair Treatment rate. In 2018, this was 82 per cent - a slight increase on 2017. This is higher than the Civil Service high performing organisations and 4 percentage points above the Civil Service average. However, analysis by protected characteristics shows that experience of inclusion is not uniformly distributed across all equality groups, with disabled employees reporting a poorer experience of inclusion.

In seeking to ensure that its workforce includes people from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, the Scottish Government has initially focused on building our internal evidence base to understand impact and shape decision making. The Scottish Government has been proactive in seeking information from its workforce on their socio-economic background via the inclusion of a question measuring socio-economic background in the People Surveys conducted in 2017 and 2018. The results from this question are reported as part of the Scottish Government's diversity analysis of the People Survey and are available internally to all staff. The Scottish Government has used this data to help understand whether employees report different experiences in working in the Scottish Government depending on their parent or guardian's educational attainment.

Diversity and Inclusion Resource

The Scottish Government undertook strategic work in 2017-18 to develop the corporate diversity, equality and inclusion strategies within the wider People Strategy Framework and the priorities of SG2020 (our corporate change programme). This led to a refreshed corporate offer on diversity and inclusion, which was approved by the Executive Team in March 2018.

The Scottish Government's refreshed approach focuses on upskilling, empowering and working through internal Diversity and Inclusion Stakeholders across the workforce to effect organisation-wide change that staff will see, hear and experience.

To support the delivery of this work, the resource dedicated to diversity and inclusion has been expanded. Diversity and inclusion data management, analysis and reporting on the Scottish Government as an employer is an important part of the Corporate Analytical Services Team's work and is a priority in its 2018-19 Business Plan. Consequently, in 2018-19, the Scottish Government created a dedicated social science research post on diversity and inclusion for the People Directorate for the first time.

Additionally, we have appointed a lead co-ordinator to focus on the strategic development of the staff Race Equality Network. Commitment to this post was given by Executive Team at the first staff Race Equality Network Conference held in 2017. It is the first full-time post of its kind and we will be evaluating the impact of the role in 2019-20.

Workforce Strategy

The Scottish Government has committed to develop and embed workforce planning in our ways of working and to inform all workforce decisions. Significant progress has been made in the quality of our workforce information and analysis, with regular in-year collection of cross-organisation current and projected workforce data, standardised reporting to DG Assurance meetings on workforce numbers and on wellbeing indicators and diversity.

This work will be enhanced in 2019 by a workforce strategy which will articulate high-level principles for decision making. The strategy will provide a stronger basis for workforce planning and drive prioritisation for corporate support functions. The strategy will be operationalised through local decision making, directorate workforce planning, and corporate prioritisation. The strategy will include a diversity and inclusion-specific principle, helping to drive the decisions and actions required to advance equality of opportunity. This will ensure that the equality outcome to increase the diversity of the Scottish Government workforce to reflect the general population is explicit as a driver of the workforce we need for the future. This will shape and influence the policies, procedures (such as recruitment strategy) and actions (local workforce planning and resourcing decisions) needed to operationalise the strategy.

The strategy will be developed in partnership with recognised trade unions and through an inclusive approach with internal stakeholder engagement. This will include staff networks to encourage wider participation of different individuals and groups to ensure voices are heard and can influence the strategy.

Senior Civil Service (SCS)

The Scottish Government believes that that the role of leaders is critical in ensuring that effective policy translates into great practice. Every SCS must agree at least one specific and relevant equality and diversity objective. This objective captures their role in bringing the equality and diversity aspirations of the People Strategy to life across their team, the wider organisation and stakeholders.

To support senior leaders to set meaningful diversity and inclusion objectives, a guided diversity and inclusion improvement challenge has been developed to encourage them, over a four months period, to examine and understand diversity data, engage with colleagues from diverse backgrounds to hear their lived experience and reflect on their own inclusive leadership and decision making. The aim is that by the end of the four-month challenge, senior leaders will be able to craft transparent and accountable diversity and inclusion objectives that reflect local priorities and influence strategic decision making, thereby contributing to the overall delivery of our diversity and inclusion vision.

Diversity in the SCS is improving. Women comprised 43 per cent of the SCS in the Scottish Government core at the end of September 2018, an increase of 4 per cent on the 2014 position. Recent senior female appointments include HM Inspector of Constabulary, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Chief Inspector of Education for Scotland, Director for Energy and Climate Change and Director of Performance and Strategic Outcomes. While the Scottish Government has improved diversity over the past few years, we recognise the need for continuous work and vigilance to achieve the gender-balance commitment.

Other key areas where we wish to accelerate diversity improvement relate to disability and ethnicity. Due to low numbers, it is currently not possible to report the proportion of the SCS who have self-declared as disabled. With respect to ethnicity, 3 per cent of the SCS are minority ethnic which is ahead of the overall Scottish Government proportion (2 per cent) but still behind the wider working-age population (4 per cent). Consequently, the Scottish Government has set targets on the flow of minority ethnic and disabled people into the SCS - to have 13 per cent disabled new entrants and 6 per cent minority ethnic new entrants to the SCS by 2025.


Ensuring equality of opportunity is a core aim of our Resourcing Policy and supporting procedures. The Scottish Government aims to employ a diverse workforce that reflects the people of Scotland. Our diversity and inclusion message is set out in all Scottish Government job advertisements.

Increasing the diversity of the Scottish Government workforce was a key success indicator for our 2018 large-scale external campaign to recruit around 150 Band B staff. This focused approach to equality included outreach supported by volunteers from staff diversity networks, regular reviews at each assessment stage to check impact on candidates with protected characteristics, diversity and inclusion-focused panel member training, use of diverse panels and pro-active engagement with candidates regarding reasonable adjustments. The exercise adopted an inclusive approach throughout - engaging with trade unions, staff diversity networks and sharing information on staff communication platforms to enable diverse perspectives to shape and influence the process at every stage. This approach was encouraged and corporately driven, resulting in a cohort of successful candidates that is representative of the diversity of the wider Scottish population.

To encourage young people to apply for our Modern Apprenticeship posts, we target young unemployed and underemployed people using Skills Development Scotland and related websites. We also have an extensive outreach programme that includes visits to jobs fairs within High Schools, Developing the Young Workforce events and the Scottish Apprenticeship Shows across the country. To ensure diversity within our Modern Apprenticeship intake, we link with umbrella organisations within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI), disabled, and ethnic minority communities to ensure their awareness of our Modern Apprenticeship Programme and the application process. The Scottish Government has recruited almost 700 Modern Apprentices since our programme started in 2011 and will continue to promote the programme.

Increasing diversity of background - including socio-economic diversity - is at the heart of Social Security Scotland's ambition to attract, encourage and support applications from candidates from all backgrounds and walks of life, and to employ a workforce reflective of the full spectrum of Scottish society. Stakeholder partners - who represent and support those underrepresented in the workplace - were invited to contribute to the recruitment process through resourcing assurance groups. Recommendations from these groups have been implemented, including 'statements of encouragement' added to job adverts and adverts reworded.

Considerable stakeholder engagement has taken place with the Tayside area (the location of the Social Security Scotland agency base) working closely with Dundee City Council, Job Centre Plus and Fair Start Scotland, to promote jobs and ensure candidates are supported. Candidates have been offered one-to-one support on the application and interview process. Engagement with stakeholders and organisations - such as employability partners, local communities and third sector organisations - has been maintained. This allows resourcing teams to obtain continued feedback and retain important connections regarding inclusivity and diversity, thus supporting future recruitment campaigns. Standard qualification requirements have been removed for Social Security Client Advisor roles and replaced with a bespoke skills test assessing candidates' basic literacy and numeracy abilities. This simple step of removing a qualifications barrier has been a most effective action in ensuring diversity of applicants.

Social Security Scotland is broadening, and will continue to broaden, our stakeholder network to address gaps. As result of feedback received, it has made connections with the Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Sector (CEMVO), Positive Prison, Poverty Alliance, Routes to Work and Scottish Union for Supported Employment (SUSE). Outcomes from this engagement are being collated and will help inform how we create a new, more inclusive, process for future recruitment campaigns.

Drawing on the lessons learned from the experiences set out above, the Scottish Government will review our overall recruitment approach in 2019 with the aim of improving diversity and inclusion through every aspect of our practice.


The goal of the Talent and SCS Development Team is to build a strong and diverse talent and leadership pipeline. Some examples include:

  • Action to increase the diversity of the applicant pool for Graduate Development Programme (GDP) 2019 included our first ever three-day conference in summer 2018. This was aimed at graduates from minority ethnic, disabled and socially or economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The purpose of the event was to provide 'open door' access to the Scottish Government, to provide support with the application process and to develop on-going mentoring relationships with existing Scottish Government staff.
  • A 'diversity in the talent pipeline stocktake' pulled together a wide range of data to allow us to assess evidence of individuals with protected characteristics who were not progressing through the organisation as we might expect. This led to a gap analysis of current practice versus aspirations. This will lead to further consultation on the real and perceived barriers facing underrepresented groups and further action to level the playing field (i.e. targeted action on underrepresented groups and systemic changes where barriers become apparent).
  • The new Leadership Development Framework, which will set standards for everyone in a leadership position in the Scottish Government, puts a clear emphasis on inclusive leadership.
  • Support for the Civil Service Summer Diversity Internship Programme that focuses on supporting and creating opportunities for minority ethnic and disabled students, alongside students from socially or economically disadvantaged backgrounds. This programme has the long-term aim of promoting talented individuals from diverse backgrounds into the SCS. This is currently leading to an increase in target groups who are successful in joining the Fast Stream.


The Scottish Government is subject to Public Sector Pay Policy, a key feature of which is the expectation to negotiate extensions to No Compulsory Redundancy agreements. The Scottish Government is also an accredited Living Wage employer.

The mean average Scottish Government gender pay gap was 4.63 per cent (as of the 31 March 2018). This is down from 6.3 per cent in 2015. When calculated based on the median, the gender pay gap is 2.68 per cent (as of 31 March 2018).

Analysis demonstrates that average salaries of female and male staff within each grade of the Scottish Government have no gap or minimal gap. This demonstrates that Scottish Government pay arrangements are delivering equal pay for equal work or work of equal value.

We are developing a gender pay gap action plan which include commitments for the Scottish Government as an employer.

Inclusive Culture

As an employer, the Scottish Government has been clear that there is no room for any form of discrimination or harassment. The Scottish Government is undertaking a review of our Fairness at Work policy and guidance. Furthermore, we have increased the prominence of our standards of behaviour to all staff, and are reviewing and expanding our pool of investigating, deciding and appeal officers. Training for these officers will focus on sexual harassment and will be developed in consultation with Rape Crisis Scotland. The Scottish Government is developing a pilot in three business areas to introduce an early contact team that will act as a listening ear and signposting service for staff with concerns (e.g. bullying and harassment).

To support the wider Scottish Government commitment to reduce the disability employment gap by half, we will publish a disability recruitment and retention action plan in spring 2019. This will enable the delivery of the targets set on the flow of disabled and minority ethnic people into the SCS. The Scottish Government is also undertaking a programme of innovative work - in collaboration with disabled employees - to refresh our approach to workplace adjustments and ensure that the design and delivery of services empower disabled people and remove unnecessary barriers in the workplace. We have commissioned an external company to carry out a Discovery Service Design project to review and propose a revised approach for delivering a reasonable adjustments service to disabled staff.

The Scottish Government is committed to LGBTI equality and inclusion and is a Stonewall Diversity Champion. We have refreshed our staff transgender policy and guidance which have respect and dignity for all at their core. The Scottish Government will also continue to develop guidance and learning approaches to build knowledge and confidence among staff when engaging on trans issues.

Active and engaged senior leaders and staff networks are hallmarks of progressive, inclusive organisations. The Scottish Government will continue to support our networks to hold events and initiatives that challenge perceptions and connect to lived experience and diverse perspectives to bring about positive change in the workplace. For example, in 2018 the Mental Health network held an event for senior leaders the disability network and race equality networks both held conferences, and the LGBTI network challenged Place Board - one of our corporate governance forums - to explore changes to systems and accommodation which will advance trans inclusion in the workplace.

The Scottish Government will review the role and purpose of diversity networks in our organisation - working closely with the networks, the unions who represent staff and the wider organisation - to ensure that all voices can be heard, and aim to ensure that each network has a clear purpose and support to achieve its goals.

We will take action to deliver the recommendations in the Race Equality Action Plan that are relevant to the Scottish Government as an employer. This will fall within the scope of the newly-created post in the diversity and inclusion team, thereby ensuring alignment between the aims of the Race Equality Network and our corporate ambitions on race equality.

The Scottish Government is developing a Wellbeing strategy and a dedicated Wellbeing team in People Directorate, a corporate mental health first aid system, alongside improved guidance and support for staff and managers to support good mental health. Wellbeing objectives have been embedded in our Permanent Secretary's overall Diversity and Inclusion objectives and we have invested in Mental Health awareness training for the People Advice and Wellbeing team.


The Scottish Government remains committed to investing in being highly regarded as a diverse and inclusive employer where employees feel valued for their unique contributions in the workplace and also a sense of belonging in the organisation. The policies, processes and culture aim to make the Scottish Government fully diverse in background and thought, demonstrating that we are a supportive, fair and inclusive employer.


Email: Liz Hawkins

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