Spotlight on obstacles facing BAME women in the workplace


Better support is needed to help BAME women in the transition from school to the workplace, according to a report issued today by a group taking part in a Scottish Parliament project aimed at increasing women’s involvement in politics.

The Young Women Lead leadership programme has this year explored employment opportunities for women from ethnic minorities considering recruitment, retention and development policies and practices

The report examines routes into employment for BAME women and the role employers play in this process. The report also looks at addressing racism and discrimination, including unconscious bias, in the workplace through diversity networks, raising cultural awareness, flexible working and harassment policies.

It recommends that local authorities promote BAME identifying individuals to senior positions in primary and secondary schools, with representation at the top of organisations key to improving the systems in place.

It is also recommended that the Scottish Government ensure employers collect and use workforce data to benchmark current levels of BAME women within their workplace in order to identify underrepresented populations

Deputy Presiding Officer Linda Fabiani MSP, who convened the group, said:

“With the Black Lives Matter movement demonstrating that the fight for racial equality continues, it is so important that we look to Scotland’s  young people to help us find solutions and push for change.

“I have seen first-hand the commitment and determination of these young women, in the face of a global pandemic, to make a difference in the lives of women across Scotland. They are nothing short of inspirational. I believe the recommendations in this timely report are a step towards creating real change for future generations.

“It has been a highlight of my time as Deputy Presiding Officer to convene the Young Women Lead Committee and I wish all of this year’s participants the utmost success in their future endeavours.”

Speaking as the report was launched, Dr Patrycja Kupiec, CEO of YWCA Scotland - The Young Women's Movement, said:
"This year’s Young Women Lead is the first parliamentary committee in the history of the Scottish Parliament that comprises solely of young women from ethnic minority backgrounds. 

“Investing in diverse leadership is key to building a fairer Scotland for all, and despite challenges brought on by lockdown restrictions, this group of 23 young women have demonstrated that they are a force for change. They have investigated barriers young BAME women experience during transition from education to employment and barriers in the workplace.

“The results of this timely and much needed research are highly relevant for any organisation in the public or private sector looking to implement innovative young women-led solutions to create an equal, diverse and inclusive culture in which young BAME women can thrive and progress."

 Revati Campbell, Young Women Lead Committee member, said:

"This year’s YWL Report is about a really important issue that’s directly affected the lives of every one of the participants in this year’s cohort. This is such a distinct issue, often overlooked.

“I’m so proud of all the work we’ve done to create this report and excited to see it released."
Madeleine Planche, Young Women Lead Committee member, said:
“I am so grateful that despite the challenges this year - with the support of our wonderful Parliament team - that our report will be published. Everyone is so passionate about this topic and hopefully it will help to create meaningful change.”

Lauryn Mwale, Young Women Lead Committee member, said:

"Young Woman Lead was a once in a lifetime experience. The people I met and what they taught me will stay with me forever. I used to call myself apolitical, but this experience has really opened my eyes to the scope and power of government.

“As a young black woman in a country which isn't my own, it was a great privilege to contribute to the report. Today, Scotland is my home and I am very fortunate to live in a place that appreciates my voice, not in spite of my background but because they see value in my lived experience".


The Young Women Lead (YWL) Committee is a leadership programme for young women aged 30 and under who live in Scotland. It is delivered in partnership with the Scottish Parliament and YWCA Scotland - The Young Women’s Movement. For the first time, participants in the 2019/20 Young Women Lead programme are primarily young women from ethnic minorities.

The programme was first launched in 2017 and was created from a need to address the lack of representation of young women in politics. In 2019-20 the programme was revised with the intention to increase young BAME women’s political participation and to hear their voices and experiences.

The programme was created from a need to address the underrepresentation of young women in politics. Working with the Scottish Parliament, The Young Women’s Movement (YWCA Scotland) has designed the programme for 30 participants from a range of diverse communities to come together in the Parliament to run their own committee inquiry, focusing on a topic of their choice.

More information on the Young Women Lead project can be found here.

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