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By Democrat reporter
Further steps to tackle inequalities in the workplace and help women return to work following a career break have been announced by Fair Work Minister Jamie Hepburn.
A new Women Returners Programme – backed by £500,000 and following on from a 2018-19 pilot scheme – will fund projects that help to address gender inequality in the workplace and build on the Scottish Government’s commitment to reduce the gender pay gap.
A further £850,000 will be available through the Workplace Equality Fund to help organisations to develop more inclusive and diverse workplaces.
Mr Hepburn said: “We want to ensure everyone – irrespective of gender, race or disability – has access to employment opportunities and workplace progression.
“We know there can be a number of barriers around women returning to work following an extended absence, with many experiencing a ‘motherhood penalty’ following a break for maternity leave or to care for children.
“The Women Returners programme will help many women back into work, and this funding will provide valuable advice, peer support and access to training and work experience which will open up opportunities for women in sectors where they are under-represented.
“Coronavirus (COVID-19) will continue to have an impact on our economy and the labour market for some time to come. Both of these initiatives have a role to play in ensuring we rebuild a fairer economy for Scotland where everyone has the opportunity to reach their potential.”
One of the projects supported by Scottish Government funding in 2018-19 was the Returners to Financial Services Programme run by Women Returners Ltd.
Charlotte Darling, 39, is among those who completed that programme and she has since secured a permanent role with TSB. She relocated from Leeds to the Scotland with her husband after they had their first child and she had previously worked as a fraud manager for a major bank before taking maternity leave and a career break.
She said: “Women Returners propelled me back into the world of work after a four year career break. The programme gave me the confidence and support I needed to believe in myself and the workshops that took place during the placement were key to me securing a permanent role. It was a fantastic and inclusive group that helped us to focus on our key skills and what we could deliver for the employers.”
Earlier this month the Scottish Government launched a Minority Ethnic Recruitment Toolkit to help recruitment mangers improve diversity.
According to ONS figures, the gender pay gap for full-time employees in Scotland has decreased from 7.2 per cent in 2019 to 3.0 per cent in 2020 and in the UK it has decreased from 9.0 per cent to 7.4 per cent.