Equally Safe at Work employer accreditation opens to new councils
Following the success of our Equally Safe at Work pilot with councils, Close the Gap is pleased to roll out this world-leading accreditation programme with a new cohort of councils from March 2022 to July 2023.
Equally Safe at Work is an innovative employer accreditation programme developed to support the local implementation of Scotland’s Equally Safe Strategy. The aim of the programme is to support employers to understand how gender inequality and violence against women (VAW) affect women in the workforce, and to provide a framework to generate change. Employers are supported to collect and analyse data, develop, review and update policies, practices and resources, and undertake training. This is assessed through meeting the criteria in six fundamental areas to advance women’s labour market equality:
- Flexible Working
- Occupational segregation
- Workplace culture
- Violence against women
Equally Safe at Work was piloted with an early adopters' group of councils between January 2019 and November 2020 and four councils received bronze accreditation: Shetland Islands Council, North Lanarkshire Council, Midlothian Council and Aberdeen City Council. As a result of the programme, councils have delivered a range of activities such as developing VAW policies, introducing Gender-Based Violence Support Officers, or developing actions to increase women participating in an existing mentoring programme, and implementing systems to collect intersectional data on employee experiences of VAW.
What’s new with Equally Safe at Work
As part of the roll out, Close the Gap has developed a new tier for councils who are early on their gender equality journey: the development tier. Once councils who are working on the development tier meet the criteria, they will be able to share in learning with other councils working towards bronze and receive tailored support from Close the Gap.
There are now four tiers to the programme: development, bronze, silver, and gold. The bronze, silver and gold are cumulative, and the development tier will support councils who are at the early stage of their equality journey. The development tier, which is comprised of selected criteria from the bronze tier, will enable councils to begin developing gender-sensitive policies and practice that will support them to meet the full criteria for bronze. In addition to the introduction of this new tier, we have also developed e-learning modules on flexible working and VAW, and further guidance on VAW and work to support line managers was created.
As part of the next steps following the launch of the programme with the new cohort of councils, we will also be developing new awareness, raising material and guidance.
The impact of Covid-19 on Equally Safe at Work
Since the Covid-19 outbreak, women’s experience of domestic abuse has intensified, and their experience has been exacerbated by a lack of access to support networks or specialist services. The COVID-19 pandemic has set back efforts to address women’s labour market inequality and end VAW, and has created several transformations to workplaces forging even more barriers for victim-survivors to access support. Employers more than ever have a key role to play in supporting women during this period. By recognising the gendered impact of COVID-19 and engaging with the Equally Safe at Work accreditation programme, employers will be able to better support their employees and develop policies and practice that reflect the experience of women at work. 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.
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Written evidence to the Social Justice and Social Security Committee session on VAW Close the Gap provided written evidence to inform the Social Justice and Social Security Committee's session on violence against women.