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Equally safe at work: pilot launched

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Scottish Local Councils, pilot, Equally Safe at Work, violence against women, in the workplace, help employers, COSLA, Scottish GovernmentAddressing gender inequality in the workplace is a fundamental step in preventing violence against women.

An innovative employer accreditation programme that aims to enable local government employers to advance gender equality and prevent violence against women was launched last month.

‘Equally Safe at Work’ is being piloted in Aberdeen City Council, Highland Council, Midlothian Council, North Lanarkshire Council, Perth and Kinross Council, Shetland Council and South Lanarkshire Council.

It will help councils to take steps to address the causes of their gender pay gap, and support employees who have experienced violence against women both in and outside the workplace.

Councils will receive support to undertake training, collect and analyse data, develop initiatives and review and update policies, practices and resources.

They will be working towards meeting criteria in six key areas known to be important for advancing women’s labour market equality: leadership; data; flexible working; occupational segregation; workplace culture; and violence against women.

This programme comes at a time when addressing violence against women has become an increasingly high profile issue for employers. Violence against women is perpetrated at epidemic levels, affecting all areas of women’s lives, and the workplace is no exception.

Equally Safe at Work supports the implementation of Equally Safe, Scotland’s national strategy to eradicate violence against women and girls.

The strategy, which is jointly run by the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), recognises that violence against women is a cause and consequence of wider gender inequality.

One in five women in Scotland experiences domestic abuse in her lifetime, and three quarters of women are targeted at work.

Addressing gender inequality in the workplace is therefore a fundamental step in preventing violence against women.

Experiences of domestic abuse, and stalking, sexual harassment, so called ‘honour-based’ violence, and sexual assault and rape significantly effect women’s lives at work.

And women have reported experiences of gender-based violence having a negative impact on their mental health, making them less confident at work, and causing them to avoid certain work situations in order to avoid the perpetrator.

All of these effects and responses are likely to diminish their performance at work, and their propensity to apply for promotion and be appointed to higher level posts.

Evidence shows that women who have experienced gender-based violence often do not feel confident to report their experiences, and where they do, they feel unsupported by their employer.

By addressing the barriers that women face in reporting their experiences of gender-based violence and accessing support, employers will be able to create zero-tolerance workplace cultures and to provide better support to employees.

And addressing the inequalities women face in the labour market and in the wider society, can create real change for women working in Scotland’s local government.

Close the Gap has established an expert advisory group to oversee the Equally Safe at Work pilot. Members include Engender, Zero Tolerance, Rape Crisis Scotland, the Scottish Government, COSLA, Improvement Service, and the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The idea is to work with councils over the next year to see long-term and meaningful change for all women working in councils.

To find out more about the programme, visit the Equally Safe at Work website.

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