Call for participants: Research on managing paid work with caring roles

Would you be interested in taking part in research which will expand the evidence base on the gender pay gap in Scotland?

Close the Gap is working with a PhD student at University of Manchester, Joanna Wilson, whose work is focused on Scotland's pay gap. Joanna is just about to start her field work and is recruiting interview participants to discuss how the level of workplace flexibility affects the unpaid caring they do. Joanna is looking to speak to both women and men, and is particularly interested in speaking to those in non-managerial jobs and self-employed. She would also like to speak to Black and minority ethnic people.

Participants will receive a shopping voucher as a thank you for their time.

Find out more about what's involved here.

Close the Gap’s new research finds three-quarters of BME women have experienced racism, discrimination and bias at work


At a conference last week, we launched our new research Still Not Visible: Research on Black and minority ethnic women’s employment in Scotland.

Providing an important insight into the lived experiences of BME women at work in Scotland, the research captures data on key aspects of employment across recruitment, development and workplace culture.

The key findings include:

  • Almost three-quarters of respondents reported they had experienced racism, discrimination, racial prejudice and/or bias in the workplace.
  • 47% of respondents believing they had experienced racism, discrimination, racial prejudice, and/or bias when applying for a job.
  • 42% of respondents indicated they had experienced bullying, harassment or victimisation because they are a BME women.


BME women reported that they face many forms of overt racism, discrimination and implicit bias including colleagues giving them a nickname or alternative name that was seen as ‘easier to pronounce’, or being subject to stereotypical assumptions about the type of work or position they would hold, for example presuming they are a secretary or cleaner.

Despite this, just over half (52%) of respondents who had experienced racism, discrimination or harassment in the workplace said they did not report it and of those who did report, less than a quarter were satisfied with how their complaint was handled.

Reasons for not reporting included feeling that their line manager would not support them; feeling it would not make a difference; a belief that their complaint would not be kept confidential; and a belief that reporting would make things worse. This highlights critical failings in current reporting mechanisms and suggests poor employer equalities practice.

Caring roles also emerged as a key barrier to the labour market for BME women, with 62% of respondents specifying that their caring roles have affected their ability to do paid work. BME women also face additional barriers to accessing affordable, accessible and appropriate childcare with a third of respondents saying that a lack of cultural diversity, specifically, the under-representation of BME women among childcare staff, and a lack of cultural sensitivity in service delivery would prevent them from using paid-for childcare services.



The conference was a great opportunity to explore the issues raised by the research and to turn our attention to what should happen next. Kaliani Lyle, former Independent Race Equality Adviser to the Scottish Government, chaired the event and conference speakers included the Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, Jamie Hepburn MSP. We also held a panel discussion with wide-ranging expertise across academia and the third sector including Dr Ima Jackson (Glasgow Caledonian University), Carol Young (Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights) and Satwat Rehman (One Parent Families Scotland).

Discussion highlighted that tackling BME women’s inequality in employment had the potential to reduce BME people’s higher levels of poverty and inequality in housing. The public sector equality duty came in for criticism for failing to realise transformative change for BME women. Jamie Hepburn reiterated the Scottish Government’s commitment to reviewing the duties, with a view to making changes.

Establishing race- and gender-competence among employers and policymakers was viewed as critical, ensuring that data and policies can be analysed, designed and developed with a gender- and race-sensitive lens.

A poignant comment at the conference was that it feels as though we are constantly retelling the story of BME women’s inequality, but it’s now time to change the ending.


January's news roundup

January has been a busy month for all of us at Close the Gap: we published the ultimate guide to the gender pay gap, launched our Equally Safe at Work employer accreditation programme, and opened recruitment for new trustees. If, like us, you’ve earned a break – grab a hot drink while we fill you in on all things women and work.

We are recruiting new trustees!

Are you committed to women’s labour market equality? Do you have the ability to think strategically and creatively? We are looking to add to our fantastic board of trustees.

Launch of innovative new employer accreditation, Equally Safe at Work

We are delighted to be launching Equally Safe at Work, an innovative and world-leading employer accreditation programme that will enable local government employers to advance gender equality and prevent violence against women. This coincides with a debate in Scottish Parliament happening later today at 5:00PM, after Gail Ross MSP lodged a motion welcoming the programme’s launch.

Equally Safe at Work is being piloted in Aberdeen City Council, Highland Council, Midlothian Council, North Lanarkshire Council, Perth and Kinross Council, Shetland Council, South Lanarkshire Council. It will support councils to take steps to address the causes of their gender pay gap, and support employees who have experienced violence against women both in and outside of the workplace. Councils will receive support to undertake training, collect and analyse data, develop initiatives and review and update policies, practices and resources. They will be working towards meeting criteria in six key areas that we know are important for advancing women’s labour market equality:

· Leadership

· Data

· Flexible working

· Occupational segregation

· Workplace culture

· Violence against women

This programme comes at a time when addressing violence against women has become an increasingly high profile issue for employers. Violence against women is perpetrated at epidemic levels, affecting all areas of women’s lives, and the workplace is no exception. Experiences of domestic abuse, stalking, sexual harassment, so called ‘honour-based’ violence, and sexual assault and rape significantly effect women’s experience at work. Women have reported experiences of gender-based violence having a negative impact on their mental health, making them less confident at work, and causing them to avoid certain work situations in order to avoid the perpetrator. All of these effects and responses are likely to diminish their performance at work, and their propensity to apply for and be appointed to promoted posts.

Employers have a key role to play. 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. By addressing the barriers that women face in reporting their experiences of gender-based violence and accessing support, employers will be able to create zero-tolerance workplace cultures and to provide better support to employees. By as well addressing the inequalities women face in the labour market and in the wider society, we can create real change for women working in Scotland’s local government.

We are looking forward to working with councils over the next year to see where we can affect long term and meaningful change for all women working in councils.

To find out more about the programme, visit the Equally Safe at Work website.