International approaches to advance equality: insights from six countries

International research publication including insight from six countries on ways to advance equality.

Section 5: Conclusions

Our review of legislative frameworks[18] identifies similarities in both aims and approaches of equality legislation in each of the countries examined and uncovers some areas of difference in focus and approach that the Scottish Government may wish to consider as it progresses with the review of the Scottish Specific Duties and the development of an effective implementation environment for listed authorities.

We found examples in relation to the collection and use of data sets[19] that support scrutiny, progress reporting that support intersectional analysis and noted concerns that a failure to consider equality data at a granular level has a detrimental impact on equality planning.

Further, we noted that the use of time-bound, resourced, action plans has driven change in relation to pay equity and could provide an example of how listed authorities, subject to the requirements of the Scottish Specific Duties, could develop more robust equality outcome plans and resourced implementation plans.

Our engagement with the representatives of government and scrutiny organisations emphasised the need for robust scrutiny arrangements and clarity about accountability. The general feedback received in our interviews is that change will not be effective or fast enough under the existing arrangements in place in each country without improved scrutiny. Identified areas for improvement in the countries examined suggest that, to embed mainstreaming, the need to advance equality must be built into personal performance review at the highest level of the civil service and not seen simply as a delivery issue for the equivalent listed authorities.

In this connection, interviewees thought that some form of nuanced outcomes set for regions and/or sectors would be a key driver for change. If this activity was led at a strategic level by government departments, scrutiny bodies or funders, there is a feeling that it would increase the demand for, and provision of, improved data, both quantitative and qualitative, about the experiences of marginalised groups and would improve planning and direction of resource to meet their needs. These shared perspectives about the advantage examining equalities information and setting outcomes at a strategic level, echo the principle of national equality outcome setting raised in the consultation on the future of Scottish Specific Duties.

Our review of approaches to inclusive communications identifies similarities with the approaches adopted in Scotland in relation to accessible information as required by the Reasonable Adjustment Duty and the requirements for listed authorities to have a British Sign Language and Gaelic Language Plan. However, we note that there is scope to consider how increased nuance within the current framework would provide an opportunity for the development of inclusive communications that effectively meet the needs of all the people of Scotland.

In conclusion, we believe that there is much to learn from the six countries we have reviewed. There is much that echoes the areas identified by Scottish Government in their review of the effectiveness of the PSED. There are also insights to consider from good practice and lessons learned elsewhere. These insights provide opportunities for Scotland to take the lead and ensure that legislation and guidance supports listed authorities to move from a focus on compliance and publication, to a focus on taking action to address inequality, and creating the conditions to support listed authorities become compliant by default.



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