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Equality and diversity baseline information on Scotland’s key economic sectors


This report establishes an equality and diversity baseline for Scotland’s key economic sectors, forming part of the ongoing work of Scottish Enterprise (SE) and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) in the seven economic sectors which have been prioritised by the Scottish Government as key drivers of national economic growth: creative industries; energy; financial and business services; food and drink; life sciences; tourism; and universities. The main aim of the study is to assist SE and HIE to promote equality issues in general, and more specifically, to promote the business case for equality and diversity, in their work with the key sectors.


The methodology consisted of: a literature review of the business benefits and costs of addressing equalities issues and of specific equalities issues in the seven economic sectors; a review of key strategic documents relating to the seven economic sectors; in depth interviews with a range of stakeholders from SE, HIE and other organisations; a review of sources of statistical evidence on equality and diversity in the seven economic sectors; and detailed analysis and reporting.


The report finds considerable evidence of the benefits to businesses of addressing equality and diversity issues, including some robust statistical evidence of improved financial performance related to gender issues. The evidence relates to profitability and return on investment, which will be powerful evidence for SE and HIE in their future work with businesses. No quantitative evidence was found for the other equality groups. Other key benefits were supported by qualitative evidence, and relate to: improved recruitment, staff retention and productivity; improved employer image, customer approval and brand awareness; and an improved ability to respond and change through creativity and innovation. Only one source was found to have analysed gross value added (GVA) in relation to the promotion of equality and diversity and it showed no link. The absence of GVA related evidence and evidence of financial performance related to equality issues other than gender are highlighted as key information gaps. As well as benefits, there can also potentially be costs to businesses, including training and dissemination of equal opportunities policies, increased job advertising costs, increased time to conduct selection processes, increased time to collect and monitor equal opportunities data and workplace modifications to accommodate employees who have a physical disability. On balance, there seems to be more evidence of the benefits than the costs. There is also evidence of resistance to change and the potential costs that can occur from not addressing equality and diversity issues. Numerous issues were highlighted, including: the under-representation of women and black and minority ethnic (BME) people in senior management positions; lower pay for women, BME people and disabled people; occupational segregation particularly by gender; and discrimination and barriers to promotion among women, transgender people, BME people, gay and lesbians, disabled people, and religious groups.


There is considerable scope for SE and HIE to work with organisations in the key economic sectors on promoting the benefits of equality and diversity issues and with the support of further evidence they can help promote action to tackle the under-representation of equality groups as part of their response to the public sector equality duty.

Author Blake Stevenson
Published Year 2010
Report Type Research
  • Business infrastructure
    Supporting key sectors
  • Equity
    Equal opportunities
  • Enterprise
    Sector-level support
  • Sectors
    Food and drink, Financial and business services, Life Sciences, Tourism