Gender pay gap action plan: annual report

This progress report provides an update on actions within the Fairer Scotland for Women: Gender Pay Gap Action Plan since publication in 2019. It also sets out our future priorities for continuing to advance work on this issue across Scottish Government as part of our economic recovery and renewal.

Chapter 1 Leadership

This chapter looked at how Scottish Government can show leadership in tackling the gender pay gap by looking more explicitly at our policies, including future Programmes for Government, through a gendered lens to allow particular attention to be given to the implications of policies in terms of gender. We want to enable women to fully, safely and equally participate in employment, which remains at the heart of our Labour Market action plans. 

Within this chapter, we committed to a variety of actions to improve gender competence, support our wider Fair Work ambition, reduce the gender pay gap in Scottish Government and wider public bodies and improve data. 

Improve Gender Competence 

We committed to starting the process of work to ensure that our own policy makers, analysts and delivery bodies are sufficiently competent in their understanding of intersectional gender issues to design policy and services that advance women's equality, particularly in relation to the labour market and economy. This would include our contract with WiSE Research Centre for Economic Justice to carry out a project on improving the gender competence of analysts and policy makers, being run initially on a pilot basis in the Finance, Economy and Fair Work portfolio. 

This project was primarily to improve gender outcomes in economic policy. It consisted of two elements: a training course on gender and economic policy for staff in the Economy directorate, and assistance with the development of two Equality Impact Assessments. Participants found both parts of the project to be very valuable. 

Undertaking Equality Impact Assessments (EQIA) is crucial in policy development. The Office of the Chief Social Policy Adviser has been working to design a review of the Scottish Government's approach to impact assessments. This will result in a range of recommendations setting out how the Scottish Government's approach to EQIA's could be improved in order to better support policy making, increase focus on National Outcomes, reduce complexity, ensure legal compliance and improve value for money. We will also be considering the outputs of a literature review published on 11 February 2021, providing evidence on other governments' approaches to assessing different policy impacts and their effectiveness. Going forward, this will be valuable for EQIA improvement and wider mainstreaming work.

In order to address gender inequality in Scotland, we established a National Advisory Council for Women and Girls (NACWG). The Council's first report published in January 2019, setting out eleven recommendations across a number of policies similar to those contained within our action plan. We published the Scottish Government's Response to the First Minister's National Advisory Council on Women and Girls 2019 Report Recommendations in December 2020, setting out how we will implement the Council's recommendations.

In January 2020, the NACWG published its second report on 'Policy Coherence' considering how policy is made and setting out recommendations to ensure Scottish Government policy making is gender sensitive, including:

  • Creating a stand-alone Equalities Directorate, and "Centres of Expertise" in all Scottish Government Directorates, on intersectional gender competence.
  • Establishing a senior officials and leaders group to ensure intersectional gender competent policy coherence across Scottish Government policy development.
  • Creating "Policy Makers National Standards" to support quality standards and accountability on intersectional gender competence in policymaking.
  • The delivery by Scottish Ministers of an Annual Statement, followed by a debate, on Gender Policy Coherence to the Scottish Parliament.
  • Creating a genuine effort in coproduction of policy making with evidence of lived experience at its heart.
  • Ensuring adequate resourcing to enable the collection and analysis of robust intersectional data.

We have already established a new Directorate for Equality, Inclusion and Human Rights, and will progress the remaining recommendations as part of our 2020-21 Programme for Government commitment to develop a renewed and ambitious equality and human rights mainstreaming strategy. Our strategy will be underpinned by a comprehensive approach to improving data collation and analysis and by work to ensure the voices of those impacted shape our approach and policies. 

The NACWG published its third report on the topic of "Creating an Intersectional Gender Architecture" on 27 January 2021. The report calls for the full devolution of equality to the Scottish Parliament, the integration of intersectional gender budget analysis into the Scottish Budget process and an expanded mandate for the Scottish Human Rights Commission to promote and protect women's rights, including the power to take on cases on behalf of individuals. Other recommendations are directed to the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Human Rights Commission. We are currently considering our response and will publish a substantive response in due course. 

We are committed to undertaking an ambitious and progressive agenda to ensure equality and human rights are embedded in all we do to mitigate against the disproportionate impacts COVID-19 has and will continue to have on different groups, including women, young women, pregnant women, women from minority ethnic communities, older women and disabled women. We will develop an equality and human rights mainstreaming strategy, as stated in our Programme for Government (PfG) 2020-21, that is underpinned by a comprehensive approach to improving gender competence in policy development, data collation and analysis, and that harnesses the voices of those impacted to shape our approach and policies. 

"As we recover from the pandemic we must ensure that gender equality is mainstreamed into policy design and services so that we protect and advance women's equality, particularly in relation to tackling poverty, promoting access to and progression within good jobs, and supporting business growth. Our gender pay gap action plan has worked to tackle the drivers of the gender pay gap across a woman's life and since publication we have seen the gender pay gap fall to a record low in Scotland across all measurements. I welcome the progress made to date but our work must continue until the gender pay gap is eradicated once and for all."

Christina McKelvie,
Minister for Older People and Equalities.

Improving data

We commissioned boosting of the Scottish component of the Office of National Statistics (ONS)'s 2020 Online Time Use Survey and our analysis survey looked at how time was used in Scotland in 2020 with a focus on gendered differences between women and men. We published Time use in Scotland 2020:ONS Online Survey – gender analysis on 16 December 2020. On 27 October 2020, we published the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2019: intra-household distribution of resources, which looks at how couples organise their income and financial responsibilities and how they conduct financial decision making. 

On 28 January 2021 we published the Equality and Fairer Scotland Budget Statement 2021-22 which includes analysis of the budget by gender alongside other protected characteristics. This and previous statements have also included piloting of new tools for budget analysis. The Equality Budget Advisory Group are developing recommendations on the tools and processes needed to further analyse the impact of the Scottish budget on protected characteristics including gender. 

Following a request from the Scottish Parliament's Budget Process Review Group, we committed to explore cumulative distributional analysis of the budget: adding up direct and indirect taxes, social security and spending on public services and then examining how this spend was distributed across different groups within the population. An expert seminar held in October 2018 and hosted by the Chair of the Equality Budget Advisory Group (EBAG) concluded that despite technical challenges in capturing the entire social contract, there were steps that could be taken to extend and improve the analysis currently performed by the Scottish Government. This work started in 2019 with results originally due for release in 2020. However, the work was paused due to the COVID pandemic. It restarted in October 2020 and results of the feasibility study will be available during spring 2021.

We also made a commitment to improve the intersectional data available for all policy officers across national and local government to help with the development of future policies. Equality Analysts aim to develop the intersectional data available on the Equality Evidence Finder website over the coming year. This work will form part of a new Equality Data Improvement Programme We published Coronavirus (COVID-19): Impact on equality on the 17 September 2020. This paper looks at labour market impacts of COVID-19 for different groups of people, including women, identifying a number of adverse labour market impacts that women are likely to experience due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to produce routine statistics, which have allowed us to monitor changes to women and other population groups' position which can be found at Scottish Government Labour Market Statistics. To further inform our policies and programmes in mitigating the impacts of COVID-19, we published Inequalities by gender in the context of COVID-19 (slide pack). 

In response to the National Advisory Council on Women and Girls 2019 report recommendation 3 we committed to carrying out a thematic gender review of the new National Performance Framework (NPF) as a catalyst for system analysis and change. This will be taken forward as part of the next NPF review. Periodic reviews of the framework are mandated by the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, and are undertaken to ensure that the framework continues to drive increased wellbeing.

We are proud to have published Scotland's first Gender Equality Index on 18 December 2020. This sets a baseline against which Scotland will be able to measure its progress towards equality between men and women through time. The index includes domains of power, health, work, money, knowledge and time. The index found that Scotland was furthest from full gender equality in the 'power' domain, which measures equality between women and men in decision making positions across the political, economic and social spheres. Most equality was found in the 'health' domain, which covered health status and access to health services. 

Reduce the Gender Pay Gap in Scottish Government and its Public Bodies

Scottish Government leads the way as an employer and this is why we committed to undertake an Equal Pay Audit to help us to understand the causes of our own gender pay gap. Due to COVID-19 this work was delayed, however going forward we remain committed to this action in partnership with our trade unions by the end of 2021.

We also committed to work with our Non Departmental Public Bodies and Agencies through our Sponsorship teams to reduce their own gender pay gaps. To progress this the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture wrote to all pubic bodies in August 2019 with regard to taking forward action on Fair Work, which included work to address gender pay gaps. Work to address gender, race and disability gaps was also presented to the Public Sector Equalities Forum in December 2020.

We committed to undertaking a review of the specific duties underpinning the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED). That review will take into account stakeholders' views and a range of evidence, such as the Is Scotland Fairer? report published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The aim will be to move from a culture of compliance to one that supports progress in delivering equality and a fairer Scotland.

We committed to undertaking a review of the specific duties underpinning the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED), with the aim of moving from a culture of compliance to one that supports progress in delivering equality and a fairer Scotland. We remain committed to taking forward the review of the operation of the PSED in Scotland. The first stage will be the production of a report on the effectiveness of the PSED in Scotland, learning from the experience of seeking to discharge the equality duty during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have undertaken substantial engagement with stakeholder and equality networks throughout the pandemic, and reviewed a wide range of evidence, including reports in the Equality and Human Rights Commission Is Scotland Fairer? (first series), and we have therefore learned a great deal about the operation of the PSED in these circumstances. This learning will shape our interim findings and suggested next steps, which will underpin the second stage of the review. Work on this report is underway and we intend to publish it in spring 2021. The second stage of the review will involve engagement with equality stakeholders to develop specific proposals and will form part of the development of the new strategy for embedding equality and human rights in the work of the government, as per the commitment made in the September 2020 Programme for Government. This will ensure that the PSED is considered alongside the overall equality and human rights framework, which is vital given the importance of the PSED as a key legislative driver for change. 

The Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018 sets a 'gender representation objective' for a public board that 50% of its non-executive members be women. The purpose of the act is to redress the historical under representation of women on our public boards. It was announced in June 2019 that women now account for more than half of all board members of public bodies across Scotland, where appointments are made under the process overseen by the Scottish Government's Public Appointments Team. This is a great achievement and this legislation will ensure that women are enabled to participate in senior decision making forums. A progress report will be available in April 2021. 

Embedding equality in procurements

We committed to develop our sustainable procurement tools and guidance to help buyers across the public sector in Scotland to identify and pursue equality outcomes in relevant procurements. It also helps buyers identify suitable public contract requirement from which we can develop an exemplary case study of how public sector equality duties can be met with respect to gender and procurement.

We launched our online platform in June 2020 providing easier access to the National sustainable procurement tools. The guidance for practical application of sustainable procurement is also on the platform enabling public sector buyers to more easily access and reference information on how to identify and pursue equality outcomes in relevant procurements at various stages of the procurement process. The equality aspect of the sustainable procurement tools and guidance was endorsed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). The tender for search and selection services for executive appointments for the Scottish National Investment Bank is an example of pursuing equality outcomes in relevant procurements. The successful contractor was required to: align recruitment processes to the principles for fair work as set out in the Fair Work Framework; ensure that every effort is made to maximise the potential for the Scottish Government's commitment to fifty-fifty gender balance on Boards by 2020 target is met; and to confirm if they have calculated their gender pay gap and developed an action plan for addressing the gender pay gap within their company.

Going forward, we will continue to raise awareness of equality in public procurement, encouraging public sector buyers to take a relevant and proportionate approach in their procurements, continuing to look for examples of where equality initiatives are applied in practice. 

Policy Context: Public Sector Equality Duty

Our work on a fairer Scotland for women, and on closing the gender pay gap and improving women's labour market experiences, sits in the context of a wider equality framework, a key part of which is the Public Sector Equality Duty. The Public Sector Equality Duty (the PSED, or general duty) is a duty on public authorities, and those carrying out public functions, which is part of a piece of reserved legislation (legislation over which the UK Parliament has powers). It was created by section 149 of the Equality Act 2010. PSED obliges public authorities, and those carrying out public functions, to: a) advance equality, b) eliminate discrimination and c) foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and people who don't.

This aspect of PSED is known as the general duty. The Act created powers for devolved administrations and governments to develop specific duties, to support the achievement of the general duty. The delivery of the PSED in Scotland is advanced by a suite of Scottish Specific Duties, created by Scottish Government regulations. There are ten specific duties in Scotland. These include (but are not limited to) duties to mainstream equality, to set and report on outcomes, to assess the likely equality impact of policies, to create equality conditions and criteria in public procurement, and to gather, use and report on employment data, including on gender pay. 

In preparing this report we are mindful of the many connections between the strands of work detailed below and this equality framework, and of the points at which the Scottish Specific Duty regulations apply. The effectiveness of this overall framework is currently under review. (See page 10 for more information.)

Supporting wider Fair Work ambitions

Scottish Government adopted the Fair Work Convention's framework which continues to inform our approach to improving workplace practices and employee experience. This framework supports opportunity for all and recognises the need to remove barriers that make it harder for women to access and succeed in the labour market. 

The Fair Work Convention launched the Self-Assessment Tool for workers in August 2020 which allows workers to self-assess how fair their work is and offers tailored advice. We will work with the Convention to understand the data gathered by the tool and establish the most effective interventions. 

We published Fair Work First: Guidance to support implementation of the Scottish Government's flagship Fair Work First approach. Fair Work First asks those employers accessing and distributing public sector grants, other funding and contracts to apply Fair Work First criteria to help create more diverse and inclusive workplaces where workers have security of pay and contract, can develop and utilise their skills and have an effective voice in the workplace.

We have also launched our Fair Work Employer Support Tool, enabling organisations to self-assess their working practices against the dimensions of Fair Work. The tool uses a series of questions and statements to offer tailored advice and resources that can help organisations strengthen their fair work practices. More detail on this tool is available in the Fair Work Action Plan Update report. 

We will continue to work with the Fair Work Convention as we work to develop our vision for Scotland to be a Fair Work nation by 2025, and in developing metrics for measuring the impact and change driven by our fair work agenda. 

Actions going forward 2021-2022

In addition to taking forward the work we have started above. We will also take forward the actions below. 

We will undertake an Equal Pay Audit by December 2021 to help us to understand the causes of the Scottish Government's own gender pay gap and take action to reduce it.

We will continue to improve the intersectional data available for all policy officers across national and local government to help with the development of future policies.

Updated – We will undertake a review of the specific duties underpinning the public sector equality duty and publish a report on lessons learned about the PSED regime during the pandemic in spring 2021 with further consultation on specific reform proposals later in the year. 

New – We will develop an equality and human rights mainstreaming strategy that is underpinned by a comprehensive approach to data collation and analysis, and that harnesses the voices of those impacted to shape our approach and policies. As part of this strategy and to inform the development of approaches across the Scottish Government, we will establish an Economy Centre of Expertise on equality and human rights to drive progress in this area. We understand that the effectiveness of all of this work must be underpinned by support for policy makers to become more skilled in applying an equality analysis to their policies and in this case the impact they will have on women.



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