This report presents analysis of responses to a consultation on the draft Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Bill. Using the new competence transferred to the Scottish Parliament through the Scotland Act 2016, the Bill will require positive action to be taken to redress gender imbalances on the boards of public sector bodies. Application of EU law has implications for how the Bill can be framed, including key principles that:
- Positive action measures can only be used to appoint on the grounds of gender where candidates are judged to be of equal merit; and
- These measures cannot give automatic and unconditional priority to female candidates over male candidates, and vice versa.
The Bill sets a gender representation objective for the non-executive member component of public boards and requires certain actions to be taken in the appointing of non-executive members towards the achievement of the objective.
The Bill covers:
- Scottish public authorities with mixed functions or no reserved functions; and
- Non-executive members who are appointed and who are not also employees of the body in question.
Some other members of the relevant Public Boards are excluded from the Bill's provisions, for example because they are elected as opposed to appointed to the Board. Private companies and voluntary organisations are also excluded.
The consultation opened on 5 th January 2017 and closed on 13 th March. It asked a total of 11 questions.
Profile of respondents
In total, 101 responses were available for analysis, of which 66 were from groups or organisations and 35 from individual members of the public  . The majority of responses were received through the Scottish Government's Citizen Space consultation hub.
Respondents were asked to identify whether they were responding as an individual or on behalf of a group or organisation. Organisational respondents were then allocated to one of 3 categories by the analysis team. A breakdown of the number of responses received by respondent type is set out in Table 1 below and a full list of organisational respondents can be found in Annex 1.
Table 1: Respondents by type
|Type of respondent||Number|
|Universities and Colleges||16|
Points to note about responses received from organisations include:
- The "Other" category includes organisations that campaign on equalities issues and several professional bodies.
- The Public bodies category includes organisations with a focus on health, culture or sport, transport, equalities and regulatory issues.
- The Universities and Colleges category is largely made up of individual educational institutions, but also includes two representative bodies.
In all but a small number of cases, respondents in the second two categories were bodies to which the proposed legislation would apply, and their responses sometimes focused on how the objectives would impact on their own organisations. Inspection of schedule 1 to the draft Bill - in which relevant Public Authorities are listed - also reveals that the majority of the Authorities that are listed individually did not respond to the consultation.
It should be noted that, as with any public consultation exercise, those responding generally have a particular interest in the subject area. However, the views they express cannot necessarily be seen as representative of wider public opinion.
Analysis and reporting
The remainder of this report presents a question-by-question analysis of the comments made. A small number of respondents did not make their submission on the consultation questionnaire, but submitted their comments in a statement-style format. This content was analysed qualitatively under the most directly relevant consultation question.
The structure of the consultation paper very closely mirrors the layout of the draft Bill, and the first 7 questions are all phrased in the same way: "What, if any, comments would you make in relation to section [ ] of the draft Bill?" Since some phrases or concepts recur at several places in the Bill, different respondents made similar points at different places in their submissions, and these may have been moved in the analysis to avoid repetition.
Email: Eileen Flanagan
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House