3.6. Extend The Workplace Equality Fund
Enabling businesses to implement innovative ideas to embed Fair Work.
What we have achieved
The Workplace Equality Fund 2019/20 was launched in October 2019 and projects ran until the end of August 2020. Twenty-five projects were awarded funding from the £800,000 available.
The fund aimed to address labour market inequalities for the following priority groups: minority ethnic people, women, disabled people, older workers (those aged over 50) (including menopause support); people who experience domestic abuse; and workers who are experiencing social isolation (such as unpaid carers). The fund supports organisations with equality expertise to work with employers to reduce labour market barriers to equality groups entering, remaining and progressing in employment.
In November 2020, the Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills launched a call for applications for the Workplace Equality Fund 2020/21 and eligibility for the fund was extended from collaborations between charities and the private sector to also include the public sector. This fund, running over a shorter delivery period, sought to support projects that demonstrated immediate short, sharp labour market interventions, given the economic impact of Covid-19. In total 12 projects were funded through over £300,000.
In the same month, the Scottish Government also launched a call for applications to its Women Returners Programme 20/21. The programme is currently providing 12 projects with over £300,000 worth of funding to help support women return to the labour market, in a position requisite with their skills, following a career break.
Fair and inclusive workplaces
"We must work harder than ever to eliminate labour market inequalities, and our Fair Work agenda provides a strong foundation for us to do that. Expanding the Fair Work First criteria on tackling the gender pay gap to include creating more diverse and inclusive workplaces enables us to leverage the change we want to see through the funding we distribute. Attaching Fair Work First criteria to the latest Workplace Equality Fund and Women Returner's Programme are a clear demonstration of our leadership in this space."
Christina McKelvie MSP, Minister for Older People and Equalities
Our future priorities
We will be evaluating the Workplace Equality Fund to review the range of provision that has been delivered and the impact it has had for the particular groups involved. We will determine key aspects from past and current funds that have contributed significantly to achieving the fund's objectives, learning from what has worked well and from the challenges that have been overcome. Together, this work will inform the design of any future funds we might run.
Royal National Institute of Blind People and the Marriot Hotel Group
RNIB and Marriott partners collaborated to produce 'Let's Work Together' – a toolkit for helping employers to retain workers who have or experience sight loss.
The toolkit aims to reduce inequality where workers with a sight loss condition leave employment at the point of diagnosis or when their condition deteriorates. Evidence shows that these workers are 50% more likely to give up work than the rest of the working age population.
The tookit provides employers with information to enable them to offer the support the employee needs and to encourage positive communication between managers and employees, so that relationships don't break down and result in job loss.
The toolkit was launched in June 2019 and some 400 employers accessed a copy; 50 employers were invited to take part in a retention workshop at that time.