7. Encouraging Diversity
The Scottish Government is keen to do whatever it can to encourage the diversity of elected and appointed Board members in terms of age, gender, disability or ethnicity.
32% of crofters are women, however at the last crofting election only four of the 29 candidates were women, of whom one was elected. Currently two of the seven Crofting Commissioners are women.
The Scottish Government will encourage a diverse range of candidates to stand in as many ways as possible: using social media, video clips, public awareness raising and stakeholder networks to encourage people with different backgrounds to stand for election, in particular women and young crofters.
Question 9: Do you have any suggestions for how the diversity of the elected Crofting Commissioners can be increased?
13 respondents addressed this question. Several agreed that increasing the diversity of elected Commissioners required more active encouragement of target groups. Various approaches to this were proposed.
The National Farmers' Union Scotland suggested deploying the current female Commissioners in encouraging women to stand for election. The Union also highlighted the Rural Leadership Programme as a potentially useful network to encourage more women but remarked that this programme is not available in the Highlands & Islands Enterprise area.
An individual respondent proposed that all potential candidates are encouraged to shadow current Commissioners before the elections in order to allay fears and have questions answered.
Another individual supported mentoring by local Commissioners of young crofters in their area.
A few respondents called for greater publicity of the Commissioner opportunities for women and young people, with an emphasis on the value placed on the current female Commissioners.
Two respondents (Scottish Crofting Federation and one individual) suggested that quotas for the proportion of women Board members be established: for example, 50% or 34% to reflect the current proportion of female crofters. The Scottish Crofting Federation remarked that the Scottish Government could assist in achieving the quota by addressing imbalance in diversity with their appointed posts.
Two individuals provided suggestions for making the Commissioner role more family and employment-friendly with teleconferencing opportunities and weekend meetings rather than meetings during the working week.
Question 10: Do you think that the crofting elections will have a particular impact on any equalities groups?
Nine respondents addressed this question with six considering that the crofting elections will not have a particular impact on any equalities groups; three (two individuals and Storas Uibhist) thought that particular groups would be impacted.
One individual provided his view that he was not aware of any discriminatory practice regarding women in crofting, with many active female crofters and National Farmers' Union Scotland branch meetings frequently attended by as many females as males.
The three respondents who considered that the elections would impact particularly on equalities groups all called for targeted promotional campaigns to engage with under-represented groups such as women and younger people.
Email: Keir Scott, [firstname.lastname@example.org(mailto:email@example.com)