Innovative employer accreditation programme pilot will ensure that women working in Scottish councils are Equally Safe at Work

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Close the Gap logo

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Close the Gap, Scotland’s national expert on women’s labour market participation, launching the pilot of an innovative employer accreditation programme which will support employers to advance women’s equality in the workplace, and prevent violence against women.

The world-leading programme, Equally Safe at Work, will be piloted in seven councils across Scotland during 2019. The participating councils are Aberdeen City, Highland, Midlothian, North Lanarkshire, Perth & Kinross, Shetland, and South Lanarkshire. Equally Safe at Work will support the councils to take steps to address the causes of their gender pay gap, and support employees who have experienced sexual harassment, domestic abuse, sexual violence, so-called “honour-based violence”, and other forms of violence against women. 

Equally Safe at Work will also be the focus of a Scottish Parliament debate on 30 January, after Gail Ross MSP lodged a motion welcoming the programme’s launch.  

Anna Ritchie Allan, Executive Director, Close the Gap said:

“Close the Gap is delighted to be launching Equally Safe at Work which has the potential to create real change for women working in Scotland’s local government. Violence against women is perpetrated at epidemic levels, it affects all aspects of women’s lives and the workplace is no exception.

“However, the evidence shows that 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. Whether it’s sexual harassment, domestic abuse or any other form of violence against women, employers have a key role to play in not only supporting individual employees, but also in creating a zero tolerance culture in their organisation.

“Violence against women costs the economy £40bn 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.”

Christina McKelvie, Minister for Older People and Equalities said:

“Violence against women and girls has no place in our vision for a safe, strong and successful Scotland.  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.”

Cllr Kelly Parry, COSLA’s Community Wellbeing Spokesperson said:

 “Through the Equally Safe Strategy and Delivery Plan, COSLA and the Scottish Government are working with key partners, including Close the Gap, to prevent and eradicate gender-based violence in all its forms across our society.  Tackling gender inequality is core to this. 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, including how we can best support and ensure the safety of employees who are living with or recovering from the impact of gender-based violence on their and their families lives.”

30 Jan 2019
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