Councils take part in pioneering equality scheme

Equality

Close the Gap's new scheme is tackling gender inequality in the workplace 

30th January 2019 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

An accreditation scheme is to change the way employers address inequality - and help tackle violence against women in all its forms.  

Close the Gap, which supports equality for women in the workplace, launched the Equally Safe pilot this week following a debate in Holyrood and a motion from Gail Ross MSP.

Seven councils across Scotland will be initially involved with the scheme helping them address equal pay and supporting employees who have experienced sexual harassment, domestic abuse, sexual violence, so-called “honour-based violence”, and other forms of violence against women. 

Anna Ritchie Allan, executive director of Close the Gap, said: “The evidence shows women who’ve experienced gender-based violence often don’t feel confident to report their experiences, and where they do, they feel unsupported by their employer.

“Violence against women costs the economy £40 billion each year, which includes the cost to public services and the lost economic output of women affected. It therefore makes good business sense for employers to make it a priority for their workforce.”

Close the Gap's initiative is being praised for the pioneering way it is exposing the impact violence against women has on the labour market.    

Christina McKelvie, minister for older people and equalities, added: “We recognise that this violence stems from gender inequality and acknowledge that we will not make progress unless we tackle the root causes of this inequality, both in the work place and indeed society as a whole.

“That is why the we are proud to support Close the Gap’s pioneering Equally Safe at Work accreditation programme and believe that it will provide a kitemark for employers to enhance their policies and practices to address the barriers women face at work and ensure support for those who are experiencing violence in the work place or in their own homes.”

Local authority body Cosla said it was working closely with the Scottish Government and key partners including Close the Gap to address gender-based violence.

Ccouncillor Kelly Parry, Cosla’s community wellbeing spokesperson, said: “Across Scotland, councils employ 244,000 people, with 67% of those being women. Those participating in this groundbreaking Equally Safe at Work pilot accreditation programme will lead the way in tackling the disparity of gender equality across local authorities.”

The participating councils are Aberdeen City, Highland, Midlothian, North Lanarkshire, Perth & Kinross, Shetland and South Lanarkshire.