The Scottish Government has launched a new strategy called “A Fairer Scotland for All: An Anti-Racist Employment Strategy”, which aims to encourage employers to close the employment and pay gaps for all ethnicities to address racial inequality in the workplace. Labour market data shows that the employment rate for the minority ethnic group aged 16 to 64 was estimated at 62.1% in 2021, lower than the rate of 73.9% for the white group, resulting in an employment rate gap of 11.7 percentage points.
The purpose behind the strategy
The strategy has been developed to address the issues and disadvantage experienced by people from racialised minorities in the labour market in Scotland. It will sit alongside the refreshed Fair Work Action Plan, which brings together the Scottish Government’s existing Fair Work, Gender Pay Gap and Disabled People’s Employment action plans. The ambition is for Scotland to become a leading Fair Work Nation by 2025.
The strategy takes both an anti-racist and intersectional approach to addressing the systemic and structural issues that underpin racial inequality in the workplace. An anti-racist approach challenges organisational structures, policies, practices and attitudes to actively address racism in both people and organisations. An intersectional approach demonstrates that racism does not sit in isolation and other inequalities can exist which make entering and progressing in the workplace more difficult.
How will the strategy work?
The new strategy establishes a suite of actions for the Scottish Government and explains how it will work with employers to increase diversity, fairness and inclusion in Scotland’s workplaces. The strategy sets out that employers will be supported to:
- collect workforce data, report on the pay gap and take action on the findings;
- take an anti-racist approach to removing any barriers in their recruitment, retention and progression practices; and
- drive cultural, attitudinal and organisational change.
The strategy also provides employers with practical steps, guidance and resources to take a proactive approach on this agenda. It offers support to employers to:
- improve understanding of the impact of institutional racism; and
- improve awareness of how an organisation’s processes and practices can lead to people being treated unfairly due to their race.
The importance of addressing racial inequality
Research suggests that companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity on executive teams were 33% more likely to have industry-leading profitability and reduced economic loss due to better staff retention and engagement.
However, an important aspect of addressing racial inequality is also the moral imperative to ensure that everyone in the labour market is treated fairly. In becoming a leading Fair Work Nation, a nation which offers all individuals an effective voice, opportunity, security, fulfilment and respect, Scotland must not only have employers that take forward fair working practices in terms of pay and job security, but must also have workplaces that are truly inclusive and reflective of Scotland’s diverse population.
Key Contact: Alison Weatherhead