A two-year equality fund has been launched to make Scottish workplaces more inclusive and diverse. 

The initiative, funded by the Scottish Government will make £800,000 available in its first year and aims to address long standing barriers. 

It says Scotland’s economic performance will be improved as a result of being more diverse, with equal opportunities for workers of all genders, ages, races and abilities.

Fourth year of fund

The Workplace Equality Fund was first launched by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in 2018. 

Last year, it was used as an immediate support during the pandemic so that marginalised groups were not further disadvantaged by the economic impact of Covid-19. 

Minister for Just Transition, Employment and Fair Work Richard Lochhead MSP said: “Employment rates, pay gaps, occupational segregation, workplace discrimination and progression opportunities within the labour market vary significantly across Scotland.  

“Promoting growth in employment opportunities and tackling inequality within the labour market is essential to the sustained, long-term prosperity of the Scottish economy. 

“We encourage private, public and third sector organisations to apply for funding through the Workplace Equality Fund.” 

Applications are open to most organisations 

Applications are open until April 2022 for the 2022-2024 Workplace Equality Fund and this time will be coordinated by the charity Advice Direct Scotland.

Organisations 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. These can be either charities, third sector organisations, public sector organisations and private sector businesses.

Head of business models and workplace innovation at Scottish Enterprise, Clare Alexander, said: “Fair work principles lie at the heart of our approach to creating a more inclusive and equal economy across Scotland. Evidence shows that employers can benefit through productivity, employee retention and more by having a diverse, fairly rewarded and respected workforce. 

The government advises that money they get is used for projects focused on one or more priority groups. These include women; minority ethnic workers; disabled workers and people over 50. The funds are also supposed to help people who experience gender-based violence; workers who are experiencing loneliness, menopause, veterans and spouses of veterans. 

Clare Alexander, said: “I’d encourage organisations to take the opportunity to apply for the Workplace Equality Fund and widen access to employment and progression. Having a more committed, better skilled and adaptable workforce who can spot challenges, solve problems and offer ideas for improvement creates real value.  

“This is particularly important as we transition to a net zero economy and ensure that change is fair for the wellbeing of Scotland’s workforce.” 

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.