6. Reflections from the Chief Executive of Social Security Scotland
6.1.1 Following the panel session, David Wallace, Chief Executive of Social Security Scotland provided an overview of the work to tackle racial inequality within the organisation.
6.1.2 Mr Wallace reflected on the challenges and progress within his organisation. He made clear that we was not proclaiming the organisation was a “ shining light” but one that had made mistakes and one that would continue to have open and honest conversations to effect notable change in this area.
6.1.3 He noted the numerous benefits of the mutual mentoring scheme ongoing within the organisation, stating that it had been a necessary and helpful indication of the issues and impact minority ethnic colleagues experienced.
6.1.4 He recognised the benefits of having both strong political and legislative support behind the agency since its establishment in 2018. In addition, the fact that it was a new agency, with no pre-existing cultural issues, and one which was mass-recruiting, provided substantive opportunity to make positive strides in ensuring a diverse, inclusive and representative workforce.
6.2 Accessible Recruitment
6.2.1 He outlined the following key measures used to boost minority ethnic recruitment, some of which had come from learning following a disability-focused recruitment drive. The organisation had aimed to make the recruitment process more accessible by:
- removing minimum qualifications from the majority of roles;
- offering workshops to candidates applying for positions to provide support and guidance; and
- providing feedback at all stages of the application pipeline.
6.2.2 Another area of focus was the gathering of evidence to understand existing issues and inform positive actions in the organisation. He referred to Equality Impact Assessments (EqIAs) undertaken, which showed that minority ethnic communities were underrepresented in the workforce in comparison to the national average, and that this in itself was a barrier for minority ethnic candidates.
6.2.3 Data analysis of the recruitment process had also shown that minority ethnic candidates were applying for roles but that this number kept reducing throughout every stage of the recruitment process.
6.2.4 He noted the encouraging but relatively small gains in terms of workforce representation, with around 11% of the workforce declaring a disability, a figure that had continued to improve over time, and around 3% of the workforce identifying as minority ethnic.
6.2.5 Moreover, he noted that the organisation was unable to provide numbers for senior people in post who identified as minority ethnic. Mr Wallace stressed the ambition and work ongoing to improve routes into employment, including modern apprenticeships, placements and internships; and on the same token, defined routes to progression into senior roles.
6.3 Strong Leadership
6.3.1 He spoke candidly about this work requiring strong, honest leadership, and to use that leadership to effect change, regardless of difficulty. He emphasised that simply implementing the same practices but with a little more emphasis on equalities and diversity was not enough.
6.3.2 He said he felt “uplifted” by the breakout discussions and was struck by the commonality on issues that his organisation had been experiencing. In concluding he stated that race equality was “at a tipping point now”. He further stated, “I’m not speaking today from an organisation that’s got it right, but I am speaking from an organisation that is committed to learning the lessons and getting it right for the future.”
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