From education to employment

£800k fund awarded to Scottish workplaces to boost inclusivity and diversity

Projects aimed at making workplaces more accessible to previously excluded groups including older people and those with disabilities are among a raft of initiatives to receive government-backed equality funding. 

Thirteen projects to boost inclusivity and diversity at work have successfully applied to the Scottish Government’s Workplace Equality Fund, driving forward Scotland’s Fair Work Framework. 
Administered by Advice Direct Scotland, recipients will now receive grants to address long-standing barriers in the labour market. 

The fund, which was first launched by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in 2018, is designed to ensure that everyone – irrespective of gender, age, race, or disability – can fulfil their potential and improve Scotland’s economic performance as a result. 

The Fair Work Framework sets out what fair work means in Scotland, offering all individuals an effective voice, opportunity, security, fulfilment, and respect.

It is being used to fund projects that are focused on one or more priority groups such as women, minority ethnic workers, disabled workers and workers aged over 50.  

Other priority groups include people who experience gender-based violence, workers who are experiencing social isolation and/or loneliness, and workers experiencing symptoms of the menopause.

Earlier this year, Advice Direct Scotland encouraged charities, third sector organisations, public sector organisations and private sector businesses to apply through its service.  

A total of 54 applications were received, with 13 schemes now selected to receive funding.   
These include Cornerstone’s Menopause Awareness Project, Perth Autism Support’s project to help autistic individuals secure and retain employment, and PATH Scotland’s leadership programme for BAME employees of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.   

Successful organisations also include Age Scotland, for its project around age inclusion for people, managers and key influencers, and the Scottish Refugee Council’s scheme to help refugees develop careers in social care. 

The full list of projects receiving funding are:  

  • Voices for Change: Disability & Women, by NHS Dumfries and Galloway in partnership with DG Voice  
  • Leadership Programme for BAME Employees, by PATH Scotland in partnership with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde  
  • Inclusive Heritage Partnership Project, by the West of Scotland Regional Equality Council in partnership with Historic Environment Scotland   
  • Perth Autism Support’s Supporting Autistic Individuals to Secure and Retain Employment project, in partnership with Perth and Kinross Council  
  • Accessibility for All by Connect Three Solutions, in partnership with the Passion4Social CIC agency   
  • Diversity Works, by Adopt an Intern in partnership with Aegon Asset Management   
  • JRS Knowhow’s Learning with the Legal Sector project, in partnership with the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre  
  • DIveIn Programme, by Built Environment – Smarter Transformation (BE-ST), formerly the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, in partnership with Radiant and Brighter
  • Social care charity Cornerstone’s Menopause Awareness Project, in partnership with The People Portfolio   
  • The Young Women Code, by YWCA Scotland in partnership with digital skills agency CodeClan   
  • Refugees in Social Care Careers by the Scottish Refugee Council, in partnership with Fair Deal   
  • Neuroinclusion at Work, by Salvesen Mindroom Centre in partnership with Burness Paull LLP  
  • Age Inclusion for People Managers and Key Influencers, by Age Scotland in partnership with the University of Edinburgh Business School.   

Employment and Fair Work Minister Richard Lochhead said:

“It’s great to see such a wide range of inspiring, innovative and diverse projects from across Scotland being supported in the latest round of the Workplace Equality Fund, which seeks to support employers to address barriers for those marginalised in the labour market.

“The Scottish Government wants the same employment opportunities for all so that everyone can fulfil their potential and improve our economy. Inclusive growth within the workforce is a key element of meeting our ambition to be a Fair Work Nation by 2025.

“Since 2018, the Workplace Equality Fund has provided over £1.8 million worth of funding to 58 projects.”

Conor Forbes, director of policy with Advice Direct Scotland, said:  

“We are proud to have worked with the Scottish Government to deliver this important fund.  

“This initiative acts as a source of financial support for Scottish businesses and organisations that are striving to improve equality-related outcomes for priority groups in the workplace.   

“As an inclusive and progressive organisation with a diverse workforce, Advice Direct Scotland understands how valuable this is.  

“The 13 successful applicants include a range of inspiring projects designed to increase diversity and inclusion in a variety of different sectors, all around Scotland.   

“The Workplace Equality Fund will support employers to address and resolve long-standing barriers facing under-represented groups within the labour market and will help to promote and embed principles of inclusivity and fairness within Scotland’s workplaces.” 

Mike Douglas, Age Scotland’s director of social enterprise, said:  

“We’re incredibly grateful to the Scottish Government for their ongoing support for our age inclusive workplaces services. 

“Our most recent work has highlighted that much of the ageism experienced by older workers happens through interactions with their line managers. In order for organisations to be as age-inclusive as possible, the skills of their people managers are key. 

“To help them achieve this we are aiming to work with 1,500 line managers and key influencers over the next two years to help them better understand the needs and challenges faced by their older workers so they can offer them the best possible support, and ultimately maximise their experience, value and potential.  

“We have a rapidly ageing population and a growing older workforce who can offer huge amounts to organisations, the economy and society, and by being able to make the necessary adjustments and provide better support for people with caring responsibilities, health conditions, or when exploring flexible working options, everyone benefits and will help considerably with retaining these valuable workers.”  

Hazel Brown, chief executive of Cornerstone, said:  

“We were absolutely delighted to learn recently that our grant application to the Workplace Equality Fund for a Menopause Awareness Project has been successful.     

“With over 78 per cent of Cornerstone’s workforce being female and 45 per cent being between the ages of 35-55, it is vitally important that we better understand the impact of perimenopause, menopause, and post menopause and identify ways in which we can all better support those experiencing symptoms.  

“We will look to raise awareness, remove barriers, increase support and training, and ensure that we have the appropriate, menopause-friendly, workplace and recruitment measures in place to encourage more women to join Cornerstone or indeed to allow them to be able to remain at, or return to, work.    

“The significant grant, which is worth £118,400 over two years, will allow us to now move forward with this innovative piece of work in partnership with The People Portfolio.  

“We will also be working towards achieving Menopause Friendly Accreditation and pledge to share the important findings and recommendations of the project in due course.”  

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