Race equality ‘still not working’, finds Holyrood Committee


Despite forty years of legislation, training initiatives and equality policies, the world of work still fails to represent the communities and people of Scotland, according to a race, ethnicity and employment report by the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee.

The report comes off the back of a six-month Committee inquiry, which examined barriers faced by Scotland’s ethnic minorities in accessing training and employment and ways these can be tackled.   

The Committee heard evidence that Scotland’s ethnic minorities are on average more likely to be unemployed or in low-paid work. Despite largely performing better academically than white Scots, people from an ethnic minority background are also underrepresented in senior management positions.

The report calls on the Scottish Government to show leadership in tackling the deep-seated issues which emerged in its inquiry, and commit to long-term, practical action, including:

  • Encouraging the use of public sector procurement contracts as a way of opening up jobs to ethnic minority groups who are underrepresented in certain industries.
  • Working with public bodies to ensure that policies on work experience, work placements and internships are equality assessed and that the Scottish Government considers setting equality targets.
  • Raising public bodies’ awareness on racial equality issues in the workplace by ensuring training, mentoring and shadowing opportunities are open to all and are promoted to all; using open recruitment, diverse interview panels; and equality-related questions in interviews and providing high-quality post-interview feedback for all job applicants.

Margaret McCulloch MSP, Convener of the Equal Opportunities Committee said:  

“Scotland prides itself on being a welcoming country. But the Committee heard that many employers still do not value diversity in the workplace or see it as a positive goal.  

“We were told that regardless of their ethnic background, ethnic minority young people are still performing better but are not seeing any kind of benefit in the labour market as a result.”

Ms McCulloch continued: 

“Achieving equality in the workplace is a vital part of ensuring Scotland as a nation is fair and inclusive to all. We are urging the Scottish Government to work with senior figures across the public sector, and, where possible, the private sector to tackle the problem. 

“We can only progress if we refuse to accept current defective recruitment practices and challenge segregation within employment. Fail to act now, and we risk placing an ‘ethnic penalty’ on Scotland’s young people.”

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Media case studies from Edinburgh, Kilmarnock and Glasgow (Springburn and Maryhill) available on request. Also accompanying photography.

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