Publication - Impact assessment

Scottish Budget 2020-2021: Equality and Fairer Scotland budget statement

This report assesses the Equality and Fairer Scotland impacts of the Scottish Budget 2020 to 2021.

168 page PDF

4.7 MB

168 page PDF

4.7 MB

Scottish Budget 2020-2021: Equality and Fairer Scotland budget statement
Chapter 3 The Scottish Government as an Employer

168 page PDF

4.7 MB

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 of our functions and to set equality outcomes which aim to bring practical improvements in the life chances of those who experience discrimination and disadvantage. In April 2019 we reported on our progress on mainstreaming equality and towards achieving our 2017 equality outcomes in our Equality Outcomes and Mainstreaming Report 2019.

This chapter provides a snapshot of the progress we continue to make, and our main priorities for spending over the next year to fulfil our vision for diversity and inclusion and to deliver on the Public Sector Equality Duty and the Fairer Scotland Duty as an employer. For detail on the action we have taken and the impact it is having, please refer to the 'Equality Outcomes and Mainstreaming Report 2019'.

Our Vision as an Employer

Our vision is to be a world-leading, diverse employer where people can be themselves at work. Diversity and inclusion underpin key organisational strategies, such as our corporate change programme – SG2020 – and our 'People Strategy'. Failure to embed diversity and inclusion has been identified as a corporate risk since 2015. Risks are assessed quarterly and progress is connected, through corporate governance mechanisms, to our performance as a government.

Building on the strategic work in 2017-18 to develop the corporate approach to diversity and inclusion, we developed an evidence-based theory of change, which underscores the importance of a whole-systems approach which operates at individual, team, organisational and national levels. We are focused on culture change, building effective teams and collective leadership, underpinned by robust 'mechanical levers' of diversity-related organisational strategy, policy, infrastructure, and management.

We have focused on further defining the role of the corporate Diversity and Inclusion Team: to support the Scottish Government to meet, and go beyond, its statutory obligations, embedding sustainable diversity and inclusion in all its work by providing thought leadership and subject matter expertise on equalities and human rights.

In these stages of implementation, we are focusing on up-skilling, empowering and working through internal key delivery partners, especially in our People Directorate, to effect organisation-wide change that staff will see, hear, and experience.

We have focused effort on defining what we mean by 'diversity' and 'inclusion' to ensure a consistent approach, drawing on international and public sector research, with equality and human rights at the core.

Diversity is anything that evokes a perception of difference. It starts with race, marriage and civil partnership, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion or belief (or none), pregnancy and maternity, age and sex. But it also includes social and educational background, organisational tenure, thinking styles, talent and identities.

Inclusion is about integrating diversity in what we do. It means being treated fairly and with respect, feeling both valued for your uniqueness and also a sense of belonging; and having a voice in decision-making. Inclusion is mostly experienced at team level.

Corporate teams have a clear focus on shaping and delivering our ministerial commitments as an employer. These include: the Race Equality Framework and Action Plan; Fairer Scotland for Disabled People Employment Action Plan; Gender Pay Gap Action Plan; and the First Minister's National Advisory Council on Women and Girls. The Fair Work agreement we signed with our recognised Trade Unions sets out our commitment to being a Fair Work employer and makes explicit commitments to embedding equality, wellbeing, diversity and inclusion. We have worked in partnership with policy teams to inform and shape policies that affect employers and to lead implementation of these within our own workforce as a major employer in Scotland.

Workforce Data

Our Corporate Analytical Services Team produces quarterly reports on equality data which enable an understanding of the diversity of our workforce. As of September 2019:

  • With respect to sex – our gender balance was 54% women and 46% men, with women comprising 43% of the Senior Civil Service.
  • With respect to race – of those reporting, 3% identified as minority ethnic versus 5% of the working-age population.
  • With respect to disability – of those reporting, 13% self-declared as disabled versus 19% of the working-age population.
  • With respect to sexual orientation – of those reporting, 6% identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or other versus 3% of the working-age population.
  • With respect to age – people aged 16-29 years represent 17% of our workforce versus 28% of the working-age population.
  • With respect to religion and belief – of those reporting, 36% identified as Christian, 2% as other and 55% as none versus 40%, 4% and 56% of the working-age population, respectively.
Declaration rates September 2019
Ethnicity 87%
Sexual orientation 76%
Disability 65%
Marital status 63%
Religion/belief 75%
Data for age and sex/gender is complete

In 2019, the People Survey asked several questions about the socio-economic background of all UK civil servants, including Scottish Government employees, and the results will be available in early 2020. This will provide a comprehensive baseline and the results from these questions will be reported as part of the Scottish Government's diversity analysis of the People Survey and made available internally to all staff and considered in partnership with the Council of Scottish Government Unions and our staff diversity networks. The Scottish Government will continue to use this data to help understand whether employees report different experiences about working in the Scottish Government depending on their socio-economic background and to fulfil our obligations under the Fairer Scotland Duty.

Our approach to workforce data

Equality data management, analysis, and reporting on the Scottish Government as an employer is an important part of our work. We are committed to taking an evidence-based approach to shaping and understanding the impact of our work and have been changing and improving the way we analyse and report on diversity and inclusion so that it shapes regular discussions about our workforce planning and strategy. For example, we made extensive use of quantitative and qualitative data showing persistent gaps in relation to outcomes and experiences of disabled people in the Scottish Government to inform the 'Recruitment and Retention Plan for Disabled People' published in 2019. Evidence relating to the recruitment and retention of minority ethnic people will shape a similar plan which will be developed in 2020.

We are also developing and strengthening diversity and inclusion data management, analysis and reporting on our role as an employer. This work includes developing an outcomes measurement framework, and increasing the breadth of equality data and analysis we provide to senior managers to inform decision making.


Ensuring equality of opportunity is a core aim of the Scottish Government's Resourcing Policy and our supporting procedures.

The 2018 large-scale external campaign to recruit around 150 staff and the 2019 Graduate Development Programme, resulted in cohorts of new employees which reflected the diversity of the wider Scottish population. This was due to: considerable efforts to expand outreach, working closely with our staff networks; new selection‑testing approaches; diverse panel members trained in unconscious bias; and using data at each stage of the process to understand the diversity impact and to change course where necessary. These exercises demonstrated that significant success can be achieved through centrally-run recruitment campaigns; as a result, we are developing our centralised recruitment and attraction strategy.

The requirement for academic qualifications has previously been cited as a potential barrier to employment for individuals who have relevant experience but limited academic achievement. We have therefore been working to encourage recruiting managers to consider seeking alternatives to qualifications where appropriate to do so. Evidence of this can already be seen in our Modern Apprenticeship programme and in the recruitment for our Social Security Agency. For centralised recruitment campaigns in 2020 we will trial removing qualifications for suitable non-specialist posts.

Our resourcing approach continues to prioritise providing opportunities for disabled people through our partnership with Inclusion Scotland to operate a disabled internships scheme. Inclusion Scotland support the recruitment of interns with Scottish Government managers. These successful internships are paid work experience opportunities where both the intern and the Scottish Government gain from the experience. Our interns can bring a valuable lived experience perspective to our work and help raise awareness of inclusive practice.

In 2020 we will be considering a Care Leader Internship Scheme in line with our Corporate Parenting Plan. It is our intention to develop a bespoke Scottish Government Care Experience Programme.

Talent Development

The purpose of the Scottish Government's Talent and SCS Development team is to grow a strong and diverse talent pipeline. All Scottish Government talent processes are open and transparent and we work with our diversity networks and representative organisations to ensure that we attract a diverse pool of applicants and maintain diversity throughout our selection processes.

We have recently completed an in-depth analysis into improving diversity in our talent pipeline, using workforce data to identify particular areas for focus. We have begun to work with our Race Equality and Disability networks to test the strength of our talent pipeline at the mid-career stage through offering career workshops, career conversations and individual coaching to these groups of staff. Following a successful round of mutual mentoring for minority ethnic colleagues with senior leaders, in 2020 we are extending this offer to disabled employees. We are currently scoping specific positive action development programmes to help increase representation in our more senior posts. We are also considering the need to strengthen our talent pipeline through more targeted external recruitment at senior levels and feeder grades.


The Scottish Government recruits a high number of modern apprentices (approximately 800 since our programme started in 2011) and we engage in a range of outreach activities to promote these opportunities to a diverse field. For example, in the last year we have attended the UK Careers Fair which has a focus on engaging with ethnic minorities who primarily needed advice on eligibility to work. We also attended the Future Asset Conference Careers Fair which focused on employability opportunities for women. We are currently in communication with 'Developing the Young Workforce' Glasgow to improve our engagement with High Schools who have a high percentage of pupils from ethnic minorities and lower socio-economic backgrounds.

Our focus is to put in place mechanisms to track the success of our outreach activities, extend our web presence and target under-represented groups through social media. We will work across the Scottish Government with all employers of Modern Apprentices to agree a common approach to marketing with diversity at its heart.

The Scottish Government was an early adopter of the Investors in Young People (IiYP) framework and was reaccredited in April 2018. In September 2019, Remarkable (the organisation which carries out the IiYP assessment in Scotland) undertook an interim assessment of the Scottish Government against the IiYP standards. It was concluded that the Scottish Government is on track to progress to Gold status by the next assessment date, September 2020.

Graduate Development Programme

Action to increase the diversity of the applicant pool for the Scottish Government 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 ongoing mentoring relationships with existing Scottish Government staff. Of the 35 individuals that were invited to attend the conference two were accepted on to the programme with a further two attendees being offered alternative substantive posts.

The GDP programme is highly competitive (2,860 applicants for 21 places in 2019). In 2019 we recruited our most diverse cohort ever – 62% disabled, 33% LGBO and minority ethnic representation greater than the Scottish population average with 10% of those invited to assessment centre identifying as minority ethnic. This was the result of a multi‑channel communications and engagement campaign and selection process designed to reach groups under-represented in our workforce and increase the diversity in our talent pipeline.

For the GDP 2019 campaign we drew on insights from our internal diversity networks through the creation of a 'reference group' consisting of current GDP members and staff diversity network representatives. This group was involved in every stage of the design and delivery of the campaign.

We worked with over 100 organisations (university career services, widening participation teams and diversity-focused organisations including: Inclusion Scotland, Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations and Stonewall) providing a toolkit of key messages, example Tweets, etc., to enable partners to promote the campaign on our behalf. Our team also made presentations to key representative organisations.

Throughout the selection process for the campaign we provided a single point of contact for workplace adjustments. Of the applications received, 8.7% of the applicants identified as having a disability (increased from 6.66% in 2017).

Work is underway to create a unified approach to graduate recruitment across the Scottish Government. This will help to ensure that for all graduate recruitment, including into specialist and professional functions, we are targeting a diverse pool of candidates more efficiently and effectively.

Following on from the success of the Future Leaders Diversity Conference in 2018 planning has begun for the 2020 conference. We will take lessons learned from the previous conference and GDP 2019 campaign to ensure we continue to provide as positive and beneficial an experience as possible for potential graduate applicants.

Senior Civil Service recruitment and development

At September 2019, women comprised 43% of the Senior Civil Service (SCS) in the Scottish Government. Recent senior female appointments include Director for Taxation; Deputy Director for European Structural Funds and State Aid; Head of Compliance, Marine Scotland; Deputy Solicitor to the Advocate General; and Chief Executive, OSCR.

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, 4% of the SCS are minority ethnic, an increase on the 2018 position, and ahead of the overall Scottish Government proportion (2%) and closer to the wider working-age population (5%). The Scottish Government has set targets on the flow of minority ethnic and disabled people into the SCS – to have 13 disabled new entrants and 6 minority ethnic new entrants to the SCS by 2025.

Following the success of targeted campaigns, such as the GDP, the same best practice, outcomes-focused approach is being brought to SCS recruitment. Early changes are being implemented to reduce barriers for candidates with least exposure to senior roles in the civil service, e.g. conducting user research to improve candidate guidance materials and piloting diverse panels for Director-level appointments (i.e. at least one panel member is minority ethnic or disabled). We are currently working to establish a baseline dataset against which to evaluate future improvements.

A programme of work is being scoped to review the diversity impact of each stage of the recruitment process from marketing and attraction through to assessment and on‑boarding. As with the successes seen with the GDP, the involvement of people with lived experience will be crucial. We will seek staff networks' and external stakeholder organisations' participation in this work.

We actively promote diversity and inclusion related development to our SCS cohort, e.g. Stonewall Leadership Programme, and include role models from under-represented groups as part of our 'leaders teaching leaders' seminar series.


The Scottish Government is subject to Scottish Public Sector Pay Policy. Key features of the 2019-20 Policy include a guaranteed minimum increase for public sector workers earning £36,500 or less; requirement for employers to pay the real Living Wage of £9.00 per hour; and the Policy commitment to no compulsory redundancies. The Scottish Government is also an accredited Living Wage employer and with effect from 1 April 2019, all staff within the Scottish Government Main bargaining unit are paid a minimum of £10 per hour.

The Scottish Government 'Equality Outcomes and Mainstreaming Report 2019' details that the mean and median gender pay gap within the Scottish Government is 3.39% and 3.49% respectively. The mean figure (the Scottish Government preferred reporting method) is down from 4.14% since publication of the previous report in 2017. This continues an improving trend from 2015 where the gap was 6.3%. 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 committed in the Gender Pay Action Plan to conducting a Gender Pay Audit, in which we will investigate the current state – and key drivers – of pay and occupational segregation at the Scottish Government across protected characteristics.

Inclusive Culture

Early contact team

We are piloting the concept of an 'early contact team' to act as a listening ear and signposting service for staff concerns (e.g. bullying and harassment) in three business areas. The pilot will be evaluated over a 12-month period.

This concept was borne out of a desire to create an alternative intervention to address some concerns in the annual People Survey results. Research shows that tackling incivilities early on, and applying early interventions, prevents relationships breaking down, decreasing the need for intervention via formal processes. Our People Survey results analysis (by protected characteristics) show that bullying and harassment are more likely to be experienced by some groups than others. This response will give an alternative and confidential route to raising concerns.

To support the implementation we have undertaken research to investigate barriers to reporting bullying within the Scottish Government. Key to this work was the inclusion of Scottish Government staff networks which helped to shape and inform the research. This work has informed the processes and approach taken by our People Advice and Wellbeing team.

We will continue to engage with Scottish Government staff networks to better understand and improve the experiences of staff.

Wellbeing strategy

Our staff wellbeing strategy sets out the Scottish Government's position as an employer on wellbeing and mental health, making it clear to staff what they can expect in terms of support in the workplace. The wellbeing strategy is part of the overall strategic direction for Scottish Government staff to foster a diverse and inclusive workplace. It sits alongside other key strategies such as the 'People Strategy' and the 'Recruitment and Retention Plan for Disabled People 2019' and is an opportunity to raise the profile and value we place on employee wellbeing. Wellbeing is a key element of our Fair Work agreement with the Council of Scottish Government Unions.

Parts of the underpinning action plan have already been rolled out, including a programme of mental health first aid support and training in October 2019. Others are in development, including new and refreshed guidance and learning on topics such as: mental health, menopause and a review of the special leave policy.

HR Policy development

We are currently refining a new HR policy 'development and review' process focused on defining how we make people-centric policy that meets the user need, is supportive and focuses on early resolution of issues.

We have redeveloped our approach to Equality Impact assessing HR policies to ensure we take a comprehensive look at the overall impact the policy has on wellbeing, intersectionality, protected characteristics and characteristics which are relevant but not necessarily protected (such as rurality). Building in diversity and inclusion from the beginning is key to making HR policy that supports a diverse and inclusive working environment.

There is an emphasis on drawing in evidence from a wide a range of sources to understand the impact on equality and to ensure that Scottish Government employees have an effective voice (a principle of Fair Work). The process has been developed to understand how we most effectively hear a wide range of staff views via staff engagement channels and through partnership working with the Council of Scottish Government Unions.

We will continue to bring this refreshed focus in policy development to life. For example, we are currently working on new guidance for 'Monthly Conversations' (part of the performance and development cycle) to bring wellbeing and support to the fore.

Diversity and Inclusion Networks

Staff networks at the Scottish Government form a critical part of building an inclusive workforce. There are a number of diversity networks including: Age Network, Carers Network, Disability Network, LGBTI Network and LGBTI Allies Network, ME – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Network, Mental Health and Wellbeing Network, Race Equality Network, European Union Nationals Network, Gender Equality Network, Women's Development Network and Socio Economic Diversity Network.

We support networks financially to hold events such as conferences which are an important part of raising the profile of diversity and inclusion issues, shifting perceptions and connecting to lived experience. In 2020 we will maximise the impact of our work together across the networks, Human Resources, Champions, senior leaders and our Executive Team through some investment in development.

For more information on the role of Scottish Government staff networks please see section of our Equality Outcomes and Mainstreaming Report 2019.

Case Study: Lead Co-ordinator for the Race Equality Network

In 2018 we appointed a lead co-ordinator focusing on the strategic development of the staff Race Equality Network (REN). Commitment to this post was given by the Executive Team at our first Race Equality Network Conference held in 2017. It was the first full-time post of its kind and we believe it has had a positive impact in promoting and progressing the interests of the network. Below are some examples of the network's achievements:

  • Led on the production of guidance of Ramadan for line managers and staff for colleagues observing Ramadhan; a video and intranet article were produced to raise awareness.
  • REN members contributed to the selection process of Graduate Development Programme 2019; a pilot project on Situational Judgement Testing was conducted with help from REN members to remove any barriers.
  • REN members participated in diverse recruitment panels for Band B Campaign 2018 and Graduate Development Programme 2019.
  • REN female colleagues contributed their lived experiences as part of a showcase on International Women's Day on March 8, 2019.
  • Contributed to the design of Security posters to remove any unconscious bias elements during the draft stage.
  • Published blogs on Saltire – connected, for example, to Ramadan and Refugee Day – to highlight the personal stories of its members and their positive contribution to Scotland.
  • A session on Hate Crimes was organised by REN member in collaboration with Scottish Government teams to raise awareness of the impact on ethnic minorities in Scotland.
  • A development session 'Getting to Yes' was organised by REN members.
  • For the first time, Eid celebrations were held in Glasgow and Edinburgh to celebrate the religious diversity of Scottish Government; more than 100 Scottish Government colleagues attended these events.
  • REN supported two career development sessions organised by the Talent and SCS Development team to support ethnic minority colleagues currently in Band C.

Learning and Development

The Learning and Development (L&D) team continue to support diversity and inclusion training to all staff. This offer includes:

  • face-to-face sessions for managers and bespoke sessions for staff upon request;
  • access to a series of 'on line' training topics including 'Disability Confident', LGBT awareness, Race Awareness, Diversity and Inclusion;
  • the SG Foundation Day – corporate induction sessions organised by the L&D team for all new staff which prominently features diversity and inclusion;
  • support for a mutual mentoring scheme for the Race and Equality Network; and
  • training on 'unconscious bias' for all our Lead Panel Members during recruitment.

Launched in 2018 the New Line Manager Development Programme was designed to have diversity and inclusion at its centre. The 16-week, blended learning programme includes online learning topics such as unconscious bias, disability and mental health. It also includes face-to-face workshop topics, delivered by subject matter experts, on the topics of cultural intelligence and diversity and inclusion (including the legal framework and the Public Sector Equality Duty). The programme also includes a 'lived experience' session hosted by the Mental Health and Wellbeing Network. The overall intention is to build confidence and capability of new people managers. In our latest post-programme survey taken 8 weeks after attendance of the final module:

  • 86% strongly agreed/agreed that the programme had supported them in being a role model for inclusive behaviours; and
  • 82% strongly agreed/agreed that the programme had increased their confidence in challenging non inclusive behaviours.

Looking forward, the intention to procure a new Learning Management System will provide greater accessibility to training and development opportunities for all staff. This will allow the Scottish Government to develop more robust data in terms of impact outcomes. The invitation to tender for the system has asked potential providers to demonstrate how their proposals meet or exceed best practice in diversity and inclusion.

Scottish Government Recruitment and Retention Plan For Disabled People 2019

In the Scottish Government's response to consultation on increasing disabled peoples' participation in the public sector workforce, we stated that we would set a target for the employment of disabled people in the Scottish Government workforce. The 'Recruitment and Retention Action Plan 2019' goes beyond this target, utilising a set of outcomes and actions to support more disabled people into work in the Scottish Government and to enable existing disabled employees to thrive and succeed. Further information on key actions and outcomes can be found in the plan.

To evaluate our work we will measure progress through a range of data such as workforce composition, People Survey, pay gap information, external assessment and benchmarking and feedback from employees. We will publish, internally and externally, the progress we make as part of our obligations under the Public Sector Equality Duty.

We are under no illusion about the scale of the challenge we face. To support its successful implementation we have set aside budget for a Programme Manager and support officer. Some of the actions in the plan carry significant cost implications such as designing and implementing a new model for delivering workplace adjustments; and making the necessary refurbishments to our estate to increase accessibility.

Workplace adjustments

The Workplace Adjustments Project is designed to review the current approach to reasonable adjustments for disabled people from the perspective of the user, ensuring it will better meet the needs of:

  • the user when they wish to request a workplace adjustment;
  • managers where they need to arrange adjustments;
  • the manager to implement or transfer a workplace adjustment for their staff; and
  • the organisation as a whole, removing barriers and optimising the opportunity for performance.

Between August and December 2018, a Discovery piece of research was commissioned to:

  • develop a clear understanding of the user journeys, barriers to optimum performance and satisfaction levels;
  • identify opportunities to improve the service for users and deliver value; and
  • identify organisational responsibilities throughout the employment journey.

The report set out opportunities for improvement, including case studies, and a compelling argument for change in terms of productivity gains, reduction in absence rates and improvements in overall employee experience. The workplace adjustments project has been fully informed by this Discovery phase, adhering to the core principles of collaboration and inclusion, in line with the Scottish Government approach to Service Design.

Disabled employees have been at the heart of understanding the issues and barriers around the workplace adjustments process. They have collectively helped make sense of the research findings and have identified changes through sense-making and co-design workshops. The new system will ensure a consistent and timely approach to organising and funding workplace adjustments, with a simplified system for end users and managers which will meet the needs of disabled staff, remove barriers and optimise opportunities for success. More detailed and consistent data is being gathered to feed into continuous improvement of the system and identify key areas for better guidance and support.

The workplace adjustment project is specifically mentioned within the 'Recruitment and Retention Plan for Disabled People 2019'. Over the next 12 months the project will take forward three strands of work:

  • Policy and Guidance – Incorporating the social model of disability into policy and guidance, reviewing policies and filling gaps, improving guidance and access to guidance for users and line managers and collecting user feedback to enable continuous improvement.
  • Process Models and Service Design – Designing and embedding a new single entry point for users to request a workplace adjustment. Implementing a digital solution to process, deliver, capture and review workplace adjustment requests. Piloting and then rolling out a workplace adjustment passport to help transfer workplace adjustment data, requirements and, where possible, equipment during internal staff moves. This will also improve communication with, and understanding of, new managers during that process.
  • Commercial Model – Understand the current supplier landscape, funding arrangements, timescales and common causes of delay; introduce new accounting measures and centralised funding arrangements; and propose new commercial arrangements to improve quality, reduce delays and ensure best value.


It continues to be the ambition of the Scottish Government to be recognised as a world-leading, diverse employer where people can be themselves at work. We are committed to building a workforce of people with a wide range of backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences who are valued for their unique contributions in an inclusive and respectful environment.