Mainstreaming Equality Report 2013

Our People

As at February 2013, RoS' staffing level was 1,022 with 51.5% male and 48.5% female. This included 223 part-time staff. 5.1% of men and 16.7% of women work part time hours. In terms of disability, 7.5% of staff declared themselves disabled.  Of these, 63.6% were male and 36.4% were female. 

Equality Outcomes:

1. Managers and staff have increased understanding of Equality and Diversity issues, fostering an inclusive culture and eliminating discrimination, victimisation and harassment within RoS.

2. Recruitment activities are open and fair and undertaken without bias ensuring roles are awarded on the basis of merit ideally creating a RoS staff profile that reflects the population of Scotland.

3. All sectors of the Scottish population can access and be confident about the integrity and usability of RoS products and services.

These three outcomes are relevant to the purpose and functions of RoS and align with the general duty as defined in the Equality Act 2010. Each of the three outcomes is supported by key activities contained in the Equality Action Plan.  Considering the potential areas where there may be equality related problems and defining the individual activities provided us with an opportunity to reflect on what action was required to ensure an appropriate approach to equality in RoS.

Equality Outcomes

1.   Managers and staff have increased understanding of Equality and Diversity issues, fostering an inclusive culture and eliminating discrimination, victimisation and harassment within RoS.

This outcome is internally focussed and relies on us raising awareness of Equality and Diversity across RoS and also to ensure we continue to provide an environment and culture where discrimination, victimisation, harassment and bullying are not tolerated.

We have recognised there is a need to improve awareness of Equality and Diversity issues across RoS.  We have published the Equality Outcomes on the RoS Intranet. Equality Awareness has been and will continue to be achieved by both formal and informal training.  Equality and Diversity training forms part of the awareness sessions that all new managers receive and is now also part of all Induction programmes.  We have recently engaged a new third party training supplier and intend to roll-out equality and diversity training to all employees on a regular basis. See Action Plan 1.1

We have recognised the need to improve the level of involvement of employees and service users to understand the actual or potential impacts of RoS' Policies, Procedures and Services on people with protected characteristics.  To this end, the Disability Advisory Group was re-established in 2011 and meets quarterly to discuss any disability related topics. The remit of the group and the minutes of the meetings are published on the RoS intranet.

Since the introduction of the Equality Act, discussions have been underway regarding the most effective way of mainstreaming Equality and Diversity to ensure all of the protected groups are considered.  It has been decided to establish an equality group that will represent all or as many of the protected characteristics as possible instead of individual groups, where the level of interest may be minimal.  The Equality Group will consist of volunteer equality champions from all departments within RoS and they will be responsible for cascading information and progressing the Equality Action plan in their own teams
See Action Plan 1.2

RoS continues to be committed to developing Policies and Procedures with full consideration of Equality issues. To ensure this happens, we continue to carrying out Equality Impact Assessments (EQIA) as part of our approach to policy review and development.  The EQIA process allows us to consider how our policies (including activities, functions, strategies, programmes, and services or processes) may impact, either positively or negatively, on groups or individuals in relation to one or more of the protected characteristics.

The EQIA looks at the following key areas:

1. Policy Definition - a clear definition of the policy and its aims.
2.   Collecting evidence and engagement with equality groups.
3.   Differential Impact - reaching an informed decision on whether or not there is a differential impact on equality groups, at what level and what you will be done to address any adverse impact.
4.   Measuring outcomes- stating methods for monitoring and evaluating the policy to ensure that it is continuing to achieve the expected outcomes for all groups.

There were EQIAs completed for two new policies that were published in 2012-13 – The Redeployment Policy and The Performance Appraisal Policy.  RoS will continue to undertake EQIAs for all policies and procedures as they are refreshed and publish them on the Intranet. See Action Plan 1.3

All Procurement award criteria have due regard to equality considerations. The RoS Terms and Conditions for services includes a clause regarding discrimination, which states that "The Supplier shall not unlawfully discriminate either directly or indirectly on such grounds as race, colour, ethnic or national origin, disability, sex or sexual orientation, religion or belief, or age…….The Supplier shall take all reasonable steps to secure the observance of this Condition by all employees and representatives of the Supplier".  We also use standard Pre-Qualification Questionnaires (PQQ), which have optional questions for the supplier to answer.  These are used depending on the nature of the tender being undertaken (and where the questions are relevant).  Such questions include:

  • "Does your organisation comply with your statutory obligations under the Equality Act 2010?"
  • "In the last three years, has any finding of unlawful discrimination been made against your organisation by an Employment Tribunal, an Employment Appeal Tribunal or any other court (or in comparable proceedings in jurisdiction other than the UK)?"
  • "In the last three years, has your organisation had a complaint upheld following a formal investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission or its predecessors (or a comparable body in a jurisdiction other than the UK), on grounds of alleged unlawful discrimination?"

Depending on the answers to these questions, RoS may exclude that supplier from the procurement process.  See Action Plan 1.4

As part of raising awareness of Equality and Diversity, RoS intends to survey its staff to ascertain an accurate representation of its staff profile in terms of the 9 protected characteristics.  This will be done as part of a coordinated communication strategy.  The results from the annual Civil Service People Survey suggests there may be a reluctance by staff to provide equality information.  753 (70%) RoS employees completed the questionnaire, but approximately 100 people did not answer all of the equality questions.  For example, 11% chose not to declare their gender. It is hoped by improving awareness of Equality and Diversity that the level of disclosure of equality information from staff will be improved prior to the next Civil Service People Survey.

The Civil Service People Survey responses suggest that 13% of employees said that during the past 12 months, they had personally experienced discrimination at work and 12% of employees said that during the past 12 months, they had personally experienced bullying or harassment at work.   However, over the same period there were only five grievances raised and the Contact Officers have advised that they have rarely been contacted to discuss any issues.  Work continues to address the results of the Civil Service People Survey under local action plans but the reasons for these perceptions requires further investigation.

Staff who feel they are being bullied or harassed are encouraged to raise any concerns through the appropriate channels, including the Dignity at Work Policy, RoS Contact Officers and their Trade Union.  Additionally, there is a Whistleblowing Policy that extends the protection for employees who want to report bad practice without fear of being victimised as a result. RoS take all complaints seriously and do not tolerate any form of discriminatory behaviour.

We encourage the use of tailored workplace agreements for employees with disabilities. This is a living record of reasonable adjustments agreed between a disabled employee and their manager. The purpose of this agreement is to:

  • ensure that both parties, the individual and the employer, have an accurate record of what has been agreed;
  • minimise the need to re-negotiate reasonable adjustments every time the employee changes jobs, is re-located or assigned a new manager within the organisation; and
  • provide employees and their line managers with the basis for discussions about reasonable adjustments at future meetings.

This document should be reviewed regularly by both the employee and manager and amended as appropriate. Managers and employees are encouraged to make use of tailored workplace agreements as part of the overall reasonable adjustments that RoS encourages managers to consider and implement as appropriate. See Action Plan 1.5

2.   Recruitment activities are open and fair and undertaken without bias ensuring roles are awarded on the basis of merit ideally creating a RoS staff profile that reflects the population of Scotland.

All recruitment activities are carried out under the Civil Service Recruitment Principles as dictated by the Civil Service Commissioners.  These principles require that selection for appointment to the Civil Service be on merit on the basis of fair and open competition.  RoS is required to complete a self assessment by the Civil Service Commissioners on an annual basis. To support monitoring and reporting in each recruitment campaign, information is recorded on the method of advertising and the selection criteria used. Statistics are kept for all stages of the process regarding age, disability, ethnicity and gender. This information is reviewed to consider whether there are any equality implications of the decisions taken. In business year 2012-13, we carried out 14 internal recruitment campaigns and 21 external recruitment campaigns.  Analysis of the recruitment statistics has not highlighted any equality issues or concerns. 

Staff Profile

To ensure the population of RoS reflects the population of Scotland we will continue to review the Scottish Census statistics.

We also require to survey and profile the RoS population to ascertain if any sectors are underrepresented.  If so, we need to consider positive ways of attracting those groups to apply for vacancies within RoS.

Modern Apprenticeships

RoS introduced a Modern Apprenticeship Programme early in 2013 as a way of supporting the Scottish Government's Youth Employment Strategy and to boost the demographic of young people working in RoS.

The programme offered 14 young adults, aged 16-19 years old, the opportunity for 18-24 months on-the-job training in respective Directorates together with short experiences in all other parts of RoS.  During their apprenticeships, they will work towards achieving an SVQ level 3 in either Business Administration or Customer Services.  These roles are all based in Edinburgh but it is anticipated that with future schemes there will be opportunities also available in Glasgow. 

This is the first time RoS has offered apprenticeships, therefore the programme will be continuously monitored and evaluated so that we can learn from this experience and improve future programmes.

Disability Symbol

RoS continues to meet the requirements of the Disability Symbol.  The symbol is awarded by Jobcentre Plus to employers who have made commitments to employ, keep and develop the abilities of disabled staff.  It shows we have a positive attitude towards job applications from disabled people.  The symbol is displayed on many RoS publications, the RoS Internet and all application forms, highlighting RoS' commitment to disabled employees.  As at February 2013, 7.5% of RoS employees considered themselves to have a disability. 

Work Life Balance

We keep abreast of developments in good practice and consult staff and/or their representatives in relation to policies and procedures affecting work/life balance. Our staffing profile at February 2013 consisted of 223 part-time staff of which 23% are male and 77% are female. See Annex A.

Exit Survey

RoS are continuing to issue an exit survey for staff leaving the organisation. Feedback provided from the survey is used to analyse trends and improve future retention. The survey has recently been redesigned to include equality questions to allow more meaningful analysis of the results. See Action Plan 2.1

To ensure all recruitment and development activities are undertaken without bias we endeavour to provide formal or informal training to all employees involved in recruitment campaigns.  Additionally, all recruitment decisions are taken by a panel having assessed objective criteria and wherever possible the panel should consist of both male and female participants.  See Action Plan 2.2

Pay Equality

We are currently in a one-year pay deal. We have reviewed and evaluated our pay and reward systems and no equal pay issues have been identified. We will continue to monitor and audit our policies and systems to ensure gender pay inequalities do not arise. SeeEqual Pay Statement and Action Plan 2.3.

There is no empirical evidence to demonstrate there are Equal Pay issues in RoS.

3. All sectors of the Scottish population can access and be confident about the integrity and usability of RoS products and services.

Provision of Information

Customer information needs to be available and accessible in alternative formats to meet the Statutory Code of Practice for "Services, public functions and associations" under the Equality Act 2010.

Much of the information we hold in relation to our registers is open to the public, who can view the registers or request information by telephone, letter, fax or email via our Customer Service Centres. In addition, solicitors and other professional bodies can access information from our main registers via the internet if they have subscribed to our 'Registers Direct' professional users service. Any customers using our Customer Service Centres who are disabled or not confident in the use of spoken English can have access to appropriate assistance e.g.

  • Text Phone - for people with hearing impairments calling in to the customer service centre;
  • Hearing Loop - for people attending the customer service centre in person;
  • dedicated lift for wheelchairs (Edinburgh) – or ease of access;
  • ramps for wheelchair users (Glasgow) – for ease of access;
  • Braille transcription – information supplied in Braille format to assist people with sight problems; and
  • visitor car parking available in Edinburgh and by arrangement in Glasgow.

Consulting our Stakeholders

We seek engagement with our customers and stakeholders through focus groups and customer feedback questionnaires. Our Customer Service Centres obtain a satisfaction rating via the annual customer survey. We run a monthly mystery shopping programme where our service standards are continually monitored. As part of this process, the customers used by the market research company come from a wide demographic. Included are customers who have disabilities or impairments so any comments regarding access to our building or the services we provide will be fed back via the reports we receive.

Customers and stakeholders who feel that they have experienced discrimination can make a complaint through the Complaints Procedure - Putting Things Right ,which is available in leaflet form at our Customer Service Centres and available on our website. There have been no specific customer complaints made regarding equality issues but a wheelchair user highlighted access issues in both Customer Service Centres, which have now been addressed.  See Action Plan 3.1

All IT Operations work must include consideration of accessibility.  The IT Service function has recently been brought back in-house.  RoS will ensure that any systems development work meets the accessibility standards required.

Workstation assessments are available to all RoS employees and there is an on-line workstation assessment template available as well as regular on-line training regarding Health and Safety.  See Action Plan 3.2

We are currently considering the legal implications of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 with the Equality Act 2010 and how it impacts on applications for Land Registration.  All applications or requests relating to changes of name under the provisions of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 will be referred to Legal Services staff.  See Action Plan 3.3

Conclusion

Outlined above are the actions taken and continue to be taken in order to mainstream equality in RoS.  The RoS Board will continue to consider any equality implications as it launches the Corporate Plan for 2014-17.  We anticipate considerable changes to the RoS IT systems used by both staff and customers in the near future, requiring us to pay particular regard to accessibility issues.  RoS will continue to make efforts to mainstream equality in all aspects of RoS' business.

We welcome feedback on this report and our equality policies, which are available on our website www.ros.gov.uk.

This report can be supplied in alternative formats on request.