MSP Staff (Equality Monitoring)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 5th March 2020.

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Photo of Elaine Smith Elaine Smith Labour

4. To ask the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body what equality monitoring of staff employed by members of the Scottish Parliament it undertakes, and what steps it is taking to address any underrepresentation from any section of society. (S5O-04195)

Photo of Ruth Davidson Ruth Davidson Conservative

The Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body does not undertake equality monitoring on behalf of members. As each member is an employer in their own right, the responsibility lies with them to gather data on equalities information on their staff. However, the SPCB provides advice and guidance to members to assist them to monitor the diversity of staff in their offices.

All staff have the option to add their personal equalities information to the electronic human resources system, which is the same management information system that is used for holding payslips and other personal data. If they request it, members can access that information through the human resources office, which can provide a breakdown of the information. That could help members to review diversity in their offices, if there are any barriers for staff or if any groups are underrepresented.

Photo of Elaine Smith Elaine Smith Labour

MSP staff, especially those who work in local offices, are ambassadors for the Parliament and are, in many cases, the only point of contact with the Parliament that some members of the public have. It is therefore vital that MSP staff are representative of the public whom we seek to serve. For that to happen, a targeted recruitment and delivery plan, similar to the SPCB’s 2020-21 plan, is required. Will the SPCB look further into that issue, and publicise the fact that it gives advice and guidance on the monitoring of, and on good practice in, equality issues?

Photo of Ruth Davidson Ruth Davidson Conservative

It is important not only that such advice and guidance exists, but that members know about it. It is also important to say that the HR office is available to provide support and guidance to members on promoting best practice and being an inclusive employer. It can provide advice and assistance to members on recruitment of staff, including drafting job descriptions and vacancy adverts, and placing recruitment adverts appropriately in order to attract candidates from diverse backgrounds.

A range of factsheets and guidance is available to members on their responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010. I am aware that they have not been updated for some time; they are currently under review.

I take on board Elaine Smith’s point that there is work to do, and I hope that that work is being carried out.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

That concludes SPCB question time. I apologise to the four members whose questions were not answered. I think that they will understand why we had an extensive list of questions on certain items.