Race equality framework for Scotland 2016 to 2030

This framework sets out our approach to promoting race equality and tackling racism and inequality between 2016 and 2030.

3. Participation and Representation

Our Vision for 2030:

Minority ethnic participation and representation is valued, effective, fair and proportionate at all levels of political, community and public life.

Increasing social and community participation is a key focus for Scottish Government. The Programme for Government 2015-16 set out our ambitions for strengthening the influence of communities on decision making processes. This agenda has been taken forward in a number of ways, for example the Fairer Scotland discussions which went out to communities, the implementation of the Community Empowerment Act 2015, investment in participatory budgeting and the Empowering Communities Fund.

The Community Ambassadors' Programme, created to engage minority ethnic communities with the development of this Framework, is one example of how policy making can be founded on the priorities and needs of communities. Many of the organisations and individuals involved in the Programme have been actively involved in identifying improvements or solutions to policy problems for many years. It's important to ensure that these efforts are recognised and repaid with an appropriate influence in formal decision making and policy development.

Beyond the Scottish Government policy development, however, our evidence gathering activities identified a wide range of areas where minority ethnic people require greater representation and participation to ensure individuals and communities are recognised and their voices are present and heard, and to achieve equality with the majority ethnic population in opportunities such as public appointments.

As government, we must also do our part to help minority ethnic communities have equal chances to participate across civic and creative life in Scotland, for example in formal and informal volunteering, arts, leisure and heritage. This is an essential part of making a better Scotland which values and benefits from the creativity and involvement of all its people.

Figure 6: Political activity 2013 [11]

Figure 6: Political activity 2013

Figure 7: Political representation 2011 [12]

Figure 7: Political representation 2011

Our key goals:

10. Increase participation and representation of minority ethnic individuals in governance and influence in decision making at local and national level

Minority ethnic communities have proportionately lower levels of representation throughout Scotland's political, governance and decision making structures. This ranges from representation as elected politicians to representation on public boards and through community planning structures. There is a lack of data on representation on local level structures such as community councils, however it is generally believed that representation is low in these structures too.

The Scottish Government believes that fair, proportionate representation at both local and national levels is essential to achieving race equality. It is important that the individuals and communities who are at greatest risk of poor outcomes are enabled to contribute to decision making in order to reach relevant solutions and build capacity and wellbeing. This is not an alternative to tackling the structural causes of disadvantage, but can be seen as part of the process, so that communities are supported to develop stronger voices to engage with systems in addressing the structural causes of injustice and inequalities on their own terms. We are committed to ensuring our own organisational development approach, to strengthen participation within policy making, helps to grow understanding of race equality issues and the importance of ensuring the voices of minority ethnic communities are heard across the work of the Scottish Government.

Improving community engagement in Scotland is a long standing priority of the Scottish Government. Legislative developments including the Scottish Specific Public Sector Equality Duties and the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 have reflected the need to better involve communities, including communities of interest and minority ethnic communities, in policy and decision making processes. The Community Empowerment Act will strengthen the voices of communities. For example, Participation Requests provide a new mechanism for community bodies to seek to engage with public bodies on their own terms in order to improve outcomes, and will give them a right to be heard.

However, further work is required to make sure that engagement does not exacerbate disadvantage, delivers societal benefits and meets communities on their terms, not ours. Stakeholders who participated in the development of the Framework expressed frustration about gaps in public sector engagement practice. The Scottish Government will support efforts to broaden representation and participation.

To achieve this goal, we will:

  • Through our Public Boards and Corporate Diversity Programme, continue to drive forward activity to improve the diversity of Scotland's boardrooms, including outreach activity with disabled people and minority ethnic communities
  • Co-produce with equality stakeholders and communities a plan of action to increase diversity in elected office
  • Further review the Scottish Government grant funding process to see what more can be done to promote equal opportunities, for example by making action to progress board diversity a requirement of funding
  • Review the existing consultation good practice guidance through an equalities lens. This will include a focus on improving consultation (including digital engagement) with all equality groups, including addressing concerns raised by minority ethnic communities
  • Work to ensure that the Honours system recognises the contributions made by people across all of Scottish society, including those from minority ethnic individuals. We will consider the use of targets so that lists are representative of Scotland's minority ethnic population at large

11. Minority ethnic people have a fair and proportionate influence on community planning

At a local level, community planning processes have a huge impact on the everyday lives of minority ethnic people. The Scottish Government works closely with community planning partners to ensure communities are at the heart of these processes. The provisions of the Community Empowerment Act 2015 have increased this focus considerably. However, as the Act is implemented, it will be vital for community planning partners to ensure that minority ethnic communities are engaged effectively. This can be a challenge for organisations and structures which are used to operating with a focus on communities defined by locality or geography, so additional action will be required to ensure community planning effectively engages communities who can be excluded by 'top down' processes that start with the agenda of the public organisations. There is a need to promote race equality so that minority ethnic individuals can take a proactive role in neighbourhood improvements.

To achieve this goal, we will:

  • Further encourage Community Planning Partnerships to embed effective minority ethnic community participation as part of good community planning; and to consider the needs, circumstances and aspirations of minority ethnic communities in the priorities they set for improving local outcomes and tackling inequalities in their area and in their actions to deliver improvement on these priorities
  • Review the role of third sector interfaces in linking minority ethnic community groups into community planning structures, with recommendations for improvements based on the findings of the review, to inform future development
  • Work with stakeholders with expertise in race equality and community engagement to develop a relevant resource to sit alongside the National Standards for Community Engagement which addresses the issues raised in the framework development process around public sector engagement with minority ethnic communities
  • Work with stakeholders and minority ethnic communities to develop the statutory guidance for Participation Requests ready for the Community Empowerment Act coming into force in late summer 2016

12. Informal community action within minority ethnic communities is better understood and valued

Evidence from our Community Ambassadors' Programme and Strategic Action Forums suggests local minority ethnic communities and voluntary sector groups are adding huge value to mainstream public services and that informal volunteering and other forms of community action are taking place on a wide scale. Informal volunteering includes, for instance, helping out within religious or community institutions; informal community action includes initiatives like local community clean up campaigns. These activities are informal because they are not linked to a formal community group or voluntary organisation.

This type of activity has benefits both for society in general, and for the individuals taking part. However, these benefits are often not properly understood or acknowledged.

Individuals participating in the Action Forums called on the Scottish Government and its partners to work with local minority ethnic communities to develop solutions to tackle a whole range of problems impacting local areas, harnessing ideas from communities themselves. The Scottish Government believes that, with a better evidence base, informal community action could provide a wealth of best practice examples, solutions and opportunities. This would help to better target service provision, opening up opportunities and access to both informal and formal volunteering and community action in Scotland.

To achieve this goal, we will:

  • Consider whether there is a need for a programme of research into informal minority ethnic led approaches to community action that identifies the benefits and impact of this work for individuals, communities and wider society

13. Promote inclusiveness and participation by making better connections between minority ethnic communities, organisations and institutions involved in heritage, culture, sports and media

Governance and decision making, whilst vitally important, are not the only arenas where evidence suggests inequality in participation for minority ethnic people. Heritage (including the historic environment), culture (including the arts and creative industries), sports and media are particular areas where increased engagement of minority ethnic groups could have many benefits in terms of social cohesion, reduced levels of isolation and the realisation of creative potential and undiscovered talent and fostering good relationships at a community level.

The rich heritage and history of Scotland is celebrated, studied and debated constantly. In reality, minority ethnic communities and individuals have always been intertwined in that history. However, their stories are seldom shared and often poorly represented. The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that minority ethnic histories are an integral part of Scotland's story. In terms of Black history, this includes acknowledgement of Scotland's involvement in the transatlantic slave trade. It also includes exploring how colonialism shaped Scotland both economically and socially, and how the impact of these global events can still be seen in the inequalities faced by minority ethnic communities today.

The whole of Scotland's society should know the broader story of Scotland's history and role in the world in order to create social and cultural equality, and to promote a strong, pluralistic national identity for Scotland. Community cultural projects such as storytelling, community radio, music festivals and local news stories provide opportunities for sharing a diversity of perspectives and facilitating new shared meanings. More broadly, it is important to encourage a sense of equal ownership for all communities in our national heritage and historic environment, including through greater recognition of the intangible cultural heritage of communities. The Scottish Government strongly believes that Scotland's history and heritage belongs to all Scotland's people.

However, in terms of broadening participation, Scotland's vibrant culture and sports sectors have much to offer for audiences, amateurs and those in search of professional careers. As well as ensuring fair access to these activities, improved participation would contribute to the physical and mental wellbeing of individuals involved. There are additional opportunities to promote community cohesion though enabling interaction and increasing diversity of both staff and participants.

Realistic, balanced portrayals of minority ethnic communities in the media is also key to building a more inclusive Scotland. We believe that this can be supported by increasing the representation and influence of minority ethnic individuals within the media workforce at all levels.

To achieve this goal, we will:

  • Continue to support engagement with minority ethnic communities in the Themed Years and Scotland's Winter Festivals, the refreshed 2016/17 Youth Music Initiative and Scotland's first Youth Arts Strategy, Time to Shine in order to increase and widen the participation of Scotland's minority ethnic population in culture activities
  • Encourage our funded bodies and other key partners (e.g. Historic Environment Scotland, Creative Scotland, VisitScotland, local authorities, National Performing Companies and organisations which manage our national collections) to share good practice around targeted marketing and promotion and also to consider other opportunities to proactively work together to promote their programmes to minority ethnic communities
  • Engage with Scotland's minority ethnic communities around their involvement in the culture and heritage sectors - at board/senior level, at management/operational level, as artists and performers, volunteers, visitors and audiences
  • Encourage our funded bodies and other key partners (e.g. Historic Environment Scotland, Creative Scotland, VisitScotland, Local Authorities, National Performing Companies and organisations which manage our national collections) to review their strategies to ensure that arrangements are in place to help broaden the participation of minority ethnic communities, and where gaps are identified to address these
  • Advance work with sportscotland, the Equality and Human Rights Commission ( EHRC), and other partners to reduce inequality and increase participation of minority ethnic communities in physical activity and sport, in line with our Active Scotland Outcomes Framework and building on the recent report published by sportscotland into equality in Scottish sport
  • Work to improve ethnic diversity in the media workforce and how minority ethnic communities are represented and portrayed including through the Scottish Government's proactive negotiations on the BBC Charter renewal


Email: race-equality-team@gov.scot

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