Wednesday, 13 January 2021
WASP privilege indulged by Scottish government and Equality & Human Rights Commission in the running of local government
Wednesday, 6 January 2021
Structural discrimination in the key functions of Scotland’s Councils is going untraced, unchallenged and unchanged
It is now over ten years since Gordon Brown rushed through the House of Commons part of his legacy in the shape of the Equality Act 2010. There was little which was radically new in the Act. Much of the focus of the Act was in tidying up equality legislation dating back several decades and ensuring a coherent framework within which the different experiences of discrimination people with protected characteristics encountered could be placed.
The Equality & Human Rights Commission published a guide for public sector bodies in Scotland in 2016, ‘Evidence and the Public Sector Equality Duty’, and which was intended to “help authorities subject to the public sector equality duty to implement the duty as it relates to evidence”. On page 19, the guidance explains:
After reviewing the existing evidence base, you are likely to identify things that you do, or protected groups that access your services, for which you do not have equality evidence. This could be because you have good information but it is not disaggregated for all protected characteristics, or because you do not routinely collect information in relation to particular functions. Think about whether you have enough evidence, and the right type of evidence, to enable you to give rigorous consideration to the needs of the general equality duty across all your functions.
You will not be able to do everything at once, and it may take some time to develop relevant evidence across all of your functions. But a lack of evidence is not a valid excuse for inaction on the duty. It is important that you start to take action based on the evidence you have, while also taking steps to develop evidence in other areas.
· People with disabilities are less satisfied with burials and cremation services
What the report lacks is the actual data, by protected characteristic, of people using the burials and cremation services, so enabling comparisons between BME people accessing the services and non-BME people using the services. The report also fails to reveal exactly how Highland Council had managed to establish contact with disabled people who had died to establish their lack of satisfaction with their burials or cremations.
Increase the level of disclosure of equality information
In essence, the Council claimed the data requested could be found in the Council’s Equality Diversity and Rights Framework progress report 2019 and in Impact Assessments such as that for the Adaptation and Renewal Programme. The Council also referred to other papers submitted to Scottish Government as statutory reports. These were discounted as they did not fit the terms of the request made in the FoI.
Improved accessibility of council services, housing and buildings
Edinburgh Leisure manages and develops sport and leisure services on behalf of the Council and the Active Communities team deliver projects to people who face the greatest barriers and tend to be much less active: women and girls, people with disabilities, older adults, minority ethnic groups and those with low incomes
Monday, 26 October 2020
Friday, 23 October 2020
Scotland's public sector offers a thin dry toast of excuses for doing nothing on disability equality
It is now over 10 years since the Equality Act 2010 promised a bold new world order in making equality happen across the UK. It had been intended to be the freshest policy offspring of Gordon Brown's premiership, and would have marked the start of his new term of office, this time as an elected Prime Minister. Instead, the Equality Act 2010 became the unwanted and unloved orphan inherited by David Cameron, propped up by Nick Clegg.
In Scotland, government accepted that in the years prior to the Act, work on equality had become bogged down in the process of compliance with the then equality legislation and reporting on progress had become an end in itself instead of a vehicle for tracking and driving real change. New 'local' regulations on how the Act would be applied in Scotland were drafted by Scottish government with the aim of dislodging the stasis which had gripped public sector progress with delivering real equality which changed the lived experiences of people.
In 2015, Equality Here, Now looked at the performance on the delivery of employment equality of public sector organisations beyond the usual suspects of NHS, Councils and Universities. Research from then found that diverse organisations such as Visit Scotland to the Scottish Qualifications Authority were employing disabled people to the extent that they formed 2.98% of the sector workforce. At that time, Scottish government's Equality Evidence finder resource was flagging that the proportion of the adult population identifying as disabled was 20%.
The research in 2015 concluded that -
the employment data published by public bodies provides no evidence that there is any awareness that there could be even the remotest prospect of institutional discrimination in the sector’s employment of disabled people. There is also no evidence that disability discrimination in employment in the sector is to be eliminated in a coherent, planned manner based on gathering good quality evidence and analysis, and linked to measurable targeted changes in the lived experiences of disabled people. This failure of public bodies in Scotland to act decisively on institutional discrimination on the grounds of disability means that for a lot of young disabled people alive today, they will live out their lives and die before demonstrable and evidenced equality of employment opportunity is available to them.
Thursday, 21 May 2020
Scotland's Councils as employers being run by and for WASPs with privilege - government and EHRC decline to intervene
As with any law, valuable time could be wasted in picking over the mistakes in drafting the Bill, mourning the opportunities lost in Cameron's filleting of the Act, and denouncing the massive funding cuts to the EHRC budget. Or we could look at what public bodies have actually done in a decade of work focused on delivering the core aim of the Act - to eliminate discrimination - and decide whether the Act is delivering for the people it aimed to help - those discriminated against on an almost daily basis.
Over the intervening decade since the Equality Act 2010, 'Equality Here, Now' has carried out regular research into what Scotland's public bodies have been doing to rise to the challenges of the Act and eliminate discrimination through change in the polices, practices and cultures of how they deliver services and operate as employers. Most recently, this has involved scrutiny of what Scotland's 32 local authorities [Councils] published in their function as employers on the workforce profile of people employed by them, and by the protected characteristics of disability, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion.
Tuesday, 5 May 2020
Rainbow flags no substitute for hard data evidence of LGB employment equality - flags offer nothing but a feeble flapping at the relentless orthodoxy of discriminating against anything which is different
Scotland's universities were not slow in climbing on the Stonewall-driven bandwagon of the early rainbow flag waving as a high-vis message that of course they were fully paid-up members of the Stonewall bus and very active in support of LGB rights for students and for staff and would, just as soon as possible, eliminate discrimination wherever it was unearthed.
Between 2010-2012, legislation on equality required a bit more than getting on the right bus and waving the right flag during the right month. Employers were required to gather data on the people who worked for them, by protected characteristic, and publish the information, in an accessible form. As well as this they were required to publish what they had learned from gathering the data and to report on how they would use what they had learned to improve their performance in eliminating discrimination as an employer. Easy-peasy, one would think. Especially at universities which take the finest minds and polish them into even finer minds. Identifying and eliminating discrimination can be done by mid-morning coffee while solving Fermat's Theorem might take them until late-lunch.
And yet, in 2016, Fermat's Theorem was solved, while in 2020, Scotland's universities have still not managed to identify and eliminate discrimination against employees who identify as LBG. It does not help universities achieve their goal on eliminating discrimination when half of the workforce [49.73%] on average across the sector refuses to identify their sexual orientation to their employer. Two of Scotland's universities do not even publish data on the sexual orientation of their workforce. From that sort of baseline it can be no real surprise to find that, on close inspection, the colours in the rainbow flag of LGB solidarity have been washed out by the rain of distrust expressed by staff and instead reveals a sector which has surrendered, waving the white flag of apathy and indifference on LGB equality.
We do know that in 2019, Scotland's universities employed 1,378 people identifying as LGB, just over 2.8% of the sector workforce total of 48,933 people.
What we don't know is whether Scotland's universities think 2.8% of the workforce is evidence that LGB equality exists or that it has not yet been achieved. Not one of the universities provides a reasoning for what their workforce would look like if discrimination against LGB people were eliminated. In brief, universities don't know where they are [half the workforce don't trust them enough to identify their sexual orientation] and don't know where they are going [none of them have worked out their optimum profile in terms of people identifying as LGB].
Most of Scotland's universities have got on the rainbow bus and paid their fare to Stonewall [free flag included]. Trouble is, no one bothered to check the destination board before buying the ticket and grabbing a seat up the back of the bus. The lack of data on half of the university workforce means the bus tires on one side are almost flat, pulling the bus off the straight line to eliminating discrimination and into a circular journey where universities simply keep arriving back to where they started out from. Flag waving - a favourite hobby of nationalists across the world - may look pretty, but in the face of the relentless orthodoxy which discriminates against anything which is different, it tends to obscure the reality that nothing has changed.
Friday, 24 April 2020
Happy to provide numbers of Jewish, Hindu, Muslim or Church of England people, but not Catholic - Scotland's universities
Like all other employers across Scotland's public sector, universities are struggling to evidence that discrimination has been eliminated and that equality of employment opportunity is being allowed to flourish unhindered by the weeds of prejudice and bigotry. Recent research into data published by all universities on the religion or belief identity of their workforce revealed that 'Scotland's Shame', so eloquently described by James MacMillan in 1999, continues to cringe even in Scotland's ivory towers, helped not a little by the fact that almost half of Scotland's universities refuse to turn on the light and let the world see the data on Catholic and Protestant people employed by them.
This reluctance stands in contrast to the willingness of all the other universities to gather and publish data sets providing a rich granularity on the religion and belief identify of their workforce, whether it be Jewish people representing 0.1% of the Napier University workforce, the 4 Hindu people in the Stirling University workforce, the 2 Church of England people employed at Queen Margaret University, and the 59 Muslim people on the workforce at Aberdeen University. Just don't ask about Catholics and Protestants.
In fairness to universities, Scottish government is also guilty of refusing to shine a light on the Catholic and Protestant cohorts within their workforce. Their most recent employment equality report from 2019 rolls up the uncomfortable reality of sectarianism by aggregating the troubling data sets into an anonymised, unembarrassing and uninformative catch-all of 'Christian', amounting to 25.7% of government's workforce. Curiously, the benchmark government chooses to check performance reveals that Scotland has 44% of the population identifying as Christian. Government doesn't comment on this disparity or inequality.
Strathclyde University is one of a number of universities unable to evidence employment equality for people identifying as Catholic. Page 25 of the Strathclyde University workforce profiling report reveals :
At Strathclyde, information from staff on gender reassignment, religion and belief, sexual orientation, marital and civil partnership status was sought in September 2013 for the first time. The disclosure rates for gender reassignment (improved by 4%), and parental (improved by 2%) have increased since 2017. All other rates have slightly decreased since 2017. We will monitor this and consider initiatives to improve the disclosure rate for reporting purposes.What Strathclyde University fails to address is that it is unable – and has been unable for some time – to identify and eliminate discrimination on the grounds of a person identifying as Catholic.
Almost half of Scotland’s universities have failed to gather and publish data sets which evidence [or fail to evidence] employment equality for people identifying as Catholic. All of Scotland’s universities have failed to provide a benchmark against which to judge current performance on delivering religious equality in employment and not one of them has offered up any clear sense of what their destination [the elimination of religious discrimination] will look like if and when it is reached.
The silence of so many of Scotland’s universities on the Catholic and Protestant profiles of their workforce simply acts as a shout which draws attention to another fertile layer of the cultural landscape in Scotland which enables the continued growth of intolerance and which continues to provide discreet sustenance to the sectarianism long recognised as ‘Scotland’s shame’, as discussed and illustrated more recently in 2018.