News In Focus
Public board gender equality guidance goes out to views
Draft guidance on how to implement the duty to pursue gender equality on public boards has been published for consultation by the Scottish Government.
The duty was passed into law by the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018, and draft regulations covering the reporting duties under the Act have also been published.
The Act sets a gender representation objective for the non-executive member component of public boards, that 50% of non-executive members are women.
In addition to the actual appointment process, the guidance covers encouraging applications by women, taking other steps with a view to achieving the gender equality objective by the end of 2022 – such as targeted outreach, providing training or coaching, and networking and shadowing opportunities – and reporting on progress.
While repeating that appointments are only on merit, it sets out as a "tie break" provision that if there are at least two equally qualified candidates, one of whom is a woman, the appointing person "must appoint the woman if doing so would result in the board achieving (or making progress to achieving) the gender representation objective. This is subject to the provision at section 4(4) of the Act which requires the appointing person to consider whether the appointment of a candidate who is not a woman would be justified on the basis of a 'characteristic or situation' particular to that candidate, and allows appointment of that candidate". The proviso is required by the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice which provides that the requirement to give preference cannot be absolute.
Click here to access the consultation. The deadline for responses is 4 August 2019.