BAME representation in Scottish Government: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

How many BAME civil servants there had been in Scottish government since it's founded in 1999 and what's the figure now and the directors in Scottish civil service BAME representation 

Also what is the perm sec doing to activating change this to make the Scottish Government more diverse and inclusive  


Question 1: How many BAME civil servants there had been in Scottish government since it's founded in 1999 and what's the figure now and the directors in Scottish civil service BAME representation?
Answer: Since 1999, there have been 421 directly employed staff who have self-identified as an ethnic minority in the core Scottish Government. This data does not include ethnic minority staff in the Scottish government agencies.
At March 2020, there were 178 employees in the Scottish Government core who identify as minority ethnic.
In regard to ethnic minority representation at Director level, we do not publish figures less than 4 for disclosure purposes to protect personal data.
However, one of our overarching strategic goals for recruitment into the SCS is to increase the diversity of the cohort and we have set specific targets for ethnic minority recruits into the senior civil
service (4% for 2017-20, rising to 6% by 2025). We are delivering on this target: the latest data we have available shows that representation of ethnic minorities in the Senior Civil Service within Scottish Government is 4% (7 individuals). This is an increase of 1 percentage point on the previous year.
In order to help achieve this we have introduced diverse recruitment panels, are developing further training for panel members and have been working with our diversity networks to provide career development support and to promote understanding of the opportunities available for staff from underrepresented groups to access talent development opportunities.

Question 2: Also what is the Permanent Secretary doing to activating change this to make the Scottish Government more diverse and inclusive?

Answer: Demonstrating strong and visible leadership on race equality and inclusion, both internally and externally, is important to the Permanent Secretary. She was honoured to be a keynote speaker at two BAME into Leadership conferences for the last two years. At the 2020 conference in Edinburgh, she used the platform to explore issues of power, privilege and platform and her commitment to breaking down structural racism and discrimination in the workplace. In the last 8 months the Permanent Secretary has held various discussions with her Executive Team, Directors and our Race Equality Network to hear experiences, engage in constructive challenge and hold her senior officials and herself to account. Consequently, she has set clear expectations for action in relation to: leadership accountability, sponsorship/mentoring offers for ethnic minority employees; and ensuring diverse voices are effectively heard and change shape senior decision-making spaces. The Permanent Secretary is particularly focused on representation in our senior roles and the critical importance of diverse recruitment panels for all this recruitment.

In fulfilment of the Permanent Secretary’s vision to achieve race equality, Scottish Government is now developing a Race Recruitment and Retention Action Plan. The plan will focus not only on increasing the representation of minority ethnic people, but will place significant emphasis on the experience of new and existing minority ethnic employees. It will describe our continuing actions to build a culture of inclusion and will set out how we intend to address discrimination, harassment and victimisation on the grounds of race, taking an intersectional approach, and to support minority ethnic employees who experience such unacceptable behaviour, including increasing reporting. The plan is due to be published later in the year.

In the 2018 staff-led race conference, the Permanent Secretary committed to appoint a lead coordinator to support and strategically develop Race Equality Network (REN). This was the first funded position of its kind and acts as a conduit between our People Directorate and the staff Race Equality Network. This has increased the membership, reach and visibility of the network. The Permanent Secretary has asked all managers to support their staff to attend REN and other staff networks, making it clear how important this work is. Two years ago, Scottish Government designed and delivered a successful mutual mentoring programme between senior leaders and members of Race Equality Network and we are currently delivering a second programme of informal mutual mentoring. Along with her Executive Team, the Permanent Secretary participated in the programme which aims to build a strategic understanding of diversity and inclusion issues at the senior level and provides a safe space where diverse voices and lived experiences are heard.

The actions described above sit within a broader agenda which aims to deliver Scottish Government’s vision to be a world-leading, diverse employer where people can be themselves at work. This agenda is currently focused on eight core themes that include adopting a strategic approach to Diversity and Inclusion in the Scottish Government, building diverse pipeline, understanding and removing barriers, providing opportunities, embedding Diversity and Inclusion in Covid-19 response, increasing awareness and supporting line managers and measuring, managing and improving. We are also in the process of engaging colleagues and stakeholders to shape a new Diversity and Inclusion strategy which will be published later this year. For further detail on the activity we are delivering to become a more diverse and inclusive employer, please refer to our 2019 Equality Outcomes and Mainstreaming Report. We will publish further progress reports and new equality outcomes in 2021 under our statutory obligations.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

Back to top