Addressing inequality in the workplace involves everyone that contributes to and makes decisions within our labour market and economy. Commitment to diversity and inclusion will not only help us to build a wellbeing economy, but it will also help us towards becoming a leading Fair Work nation, benefiting employers, workers and wider society. The Scottish Government wants Scotland to be a place where every person has the same opportunities to enter, sustain and progress their careers in a safe, diverse and inclusive labour market.
Recognising the potential, skills and experience of current and future workers should apply to everyone who is part of the working age population of Scotland. We have in Scotland seen continued and steady improvement in addressing the gender pay gap and the disability employment gap and we will continue our efforts on these important issues. We have however sadly seen less progress in addressing racial inequality in the work place with, for example, the employment gap for 'minority ethnic' workers remaining stubbornly high.
That is why this strategy is needed to make greater strides in addressing racial inequality in the workplace. We need to understand what can be done to make progress and to challenge our thinking on how systemic inequalities exist and operate that prevent our fellow Scots from racialised minorities from reaching their potential in securing and succeeding in the work place and in turn from our economy benefitting fully from that potential.
This strategy recognises that there are many good examples of employers taking forward work to address institutional racism and challenge the systems and processes in the workplace that can embed and perpetuate inequality. Much of this is offered in more detail within the accompanying appendices. In order to make progress, it will be necessary for us all, government, employers, workers representatives and fellow colleagues and workmates to understand the issues, learn from others about what works and what can be done.
To do that effectively we need also to approach and learn about issues and lived experience in a safe and trauma-informed way, and to be comfortable with what may be new or uncomfortable. Without understanding what institutional racism is and how it can drive labour market inequality, we will not effectively address all forms of racism in the workplace.
Addressing institutional racism through a commitment to diversity and inclusion benefits everyone. It can help recognise and attract the potential and skills of hidden talent pools and drive productivity and can enable more people to contribute to the economy through active labour market participation.
We recognise the economic challenge and uncertainty of recent years following the pandemic and now with the current cost crisis and financial pressure on households and businesses. There will always be variables that affect our economy but addressing inequality should always remain a constant. For us to deliver on our aim for Scotland to become a leading Fair Work nation by 2025, we must collectively and constantly look at the multiple barriers that affect experiences of work for racially minoritised people, how these can be addressed and how we measure the impact of our actions.
I look to employers to demonstrate bold, transparent leadership; to be the agents for change; actively challenging and addressing structures of inequality in our institutions. The actions, support, and advice in this strategy, aligned with and incorporated into our wider refreshed Fair Work Action Plan, provide a means to help deliver this. I look forward to working with you as we implement this strategy.
I wish to thank the members of our Short-Life Working Group for their input to date and whose range of expertise helped to shape the strategy, as well as stakeholders from a range of other backgrounds through the related process to refresh the Fair Work Action Plan. They have helped us to understand the impact of racism on people and communities who are marginalised in the labour market and the anti-racist approach that employers can take to address institutional racism. Going forward, we will continue to engage with our stakeholders and those that represent the voice of lived experience to ensure this strategy helps shape a fairer Scotland.
Minister for Just Transition, Employment and Fair Work
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