By Lucy Ashton
Jackie Baillie MSP has welcomed the launch of a two-year equality fund to make Scottish workplaces more inclusive and diverse.
The initiative, which has £800,000 available in its first year, aims to address longstanding barriers in the labour market so everyone – irrespective of gender, age, race, or disability – can fulfill their potential and improve Scotland’s economic performance as a result.
Applications for the Scottish Government’s 2022-2024 Workplace Equality Fund are now open, and will be administered by Advice Direct Scotland, the country’s national advice service.
Charities, third sector organisations, public sector organisations and private sector businesses can apply for up to £75,000 in each year of the fund to carry out activities that will help to improve diversity in the workplace.
The funding is used for projects focused on one or more priority groups from a list including women; minority ethnic workers; disabled workers; workers aged over 50; workers who are experiencing social isolation and/or loneliness and veterans and spouses of veterans.
Projects can take place within any sector, industry or geographic area provided that they demonstrate the impact on priority groups through addressing systemic inequalities in the workplace.
Dumbarton constituency MSP, Jackie Baillie has urged any organisations and businesses that wish to apply for funding to visit www.equalityadvice.scot before 11th April.
She said: “I would encourage businesses from across Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Balloch, Helensburgh and Lomond to find out more about this fantastic scheme.
“It is a great opportunity to get funding meanwhile helping break down barriers to people who could be valuable members of the workforce.”
Pamela Stewart, deputy chief executive of Advice Direct Scotland, said: “We are proud to be working with the Scottish Government to deliver this important fund.
“As an inclusive and progressive organisation with a diverse workforce, we understand how valuable this is.
“We are committed to supporting projects that aim to improve workplace practices and diversity in the workplace, which is good for individuals and also good for business.
“We encourage organisations across Scotland to apply for support from the Workplace Equality Fund so that more employers can reduce employment inequalities, discrimination and barriers.”
Previous recipients include the charity Age Scotland, which received funding for an Age Inclusive Matrix project, helping organisations to better support older workers. Mike Douglas, Age Scotland’s director of social enterprises, said: “We helped find ways for employers to better support older workers who are carers, as well as creating health and well-being support tailored to their needs.
“While flexible working is becoming more common, many people still associate it with parents of young children.
“Offering flexible opportunities to all can benefit both employers and workers, improving work-life balance and retaining skills that would otherwise be lost.
“With around a third of Scottish workers now over 50, it makes sense to invest in them. Employers benefit from a healthier, more motivated workforce and ensure that valuable skills and experience aren’t lost.”
Top picture: The office should be a more relaxed and friendly place.