Ministerial appointments to public bodies: training pack for independent panel members

The recruitment process for many ministerial appointees is independently regulated by the Ethical Standards Commissioner, requiring compliance with the Commissioner’s 2022 Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies. This training pack is for independent panel members.

7. Diversity by Design

Scottish Ministers have a long-standing commitment that public appointees are reflective of the people of Scotland. Their focus has been to improve the under-representation of people with protected characteristics and they are keen to ensure that public appointments are attractive to people from all walks of life no matter their personal circumstances, professional background or geographical location.

The Code of Practice emphasises the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion in the public appointments process. Selection panels should carefully consider what measures they can take to increase diversity of protected characteristics on a board. The criteria for selection includes skills, knowledge and experience as well as other attributes, such as lived experience and values.

You will want to ensure that the process provides equality of opportunity for applicants and that the practices deployed in the round are inclusive. This does not necessarily mean treating all applicants the same. Positive action measures can be taken in certain circumstances in order to improve on diversity of the board membership.

Positive Action

Positive action is a proportionate means of addressing the disadvantage or under-representation of people with protected characteristics. To use positive action measures in an appointment round the selection panel will need to have evidence to show that the statutory conditions to use positive action measures apply. The Public Appointments Team will provide advice on the requirements and additional information about protected characteristics as required.

Examples of positive action measures include:

  • Placing adverts to target particular groups, to increase the number of applicants from that group
  • Including a statement in adverts or applicant packs to encourage applications from under-represented groups, such as 'we would particularly welcome applications from disabled people'
  • Shadowing or mentoring schemes run by the SG and/or boards for people who share protected characteristics
  • Additional support and/or training for people who share protected characteristics to apply
  • Hosting an open day specifically for under-represented groups to encourage them to apply for a public appointment.

Most boards with appointments that are regulated by the Ethical Standards Commissioner are listed for the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018. The Act sets a 'gender representation objective (GRO)' that 50% of a board's members are women. The gender balance of the board should be discussed at the planning stage of the round.

In circumstances where a selection panel have a tie break where there are at least two equally qualified candidates one of whom is a woman, then the appointing Minister must choose the woman if doing so would result in the board achieving (or making progress to achieving) the GRO. If this happens, the Public Appointments Team will provide the advice to the panel chair and the Minister.

Guaranteed interview scheme

The selection panel may choose to offer guaranteed interviews to disabled applicants. In practice this means that applicants who choose to be considered under the scheme and who demonstrate that they meet the criteria being evaluated at the initial stage of assessment, will be invited to interview or the final stage of appointment.

Reasonable adjustments for disabled people

The Scottish Government has a duty to make reasonable adjustments. Disabled people can request a reasonable adjustment at any stage of the appointments process. The Public Appointments Team will ensure that this is made clear in all advertising material and make any practical arrangements that are required.



Back to top