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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.

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