Disabled people are significantly under-represented on regulated public body Boards in Scotland. Public bodies are missing a potential pool of talent and experience because of this lack of inclusion. Our Access to Public Appointments pilot project, funded by and delivered in partnership with the Scottish Government, sought to change this. Through this pilot project, six disabled participants shadowed six publicly appointed Boards in different parts of Scotland over a twelve-month period.
Our Access to Public Appointments Evaluation Report was published on Wednesday 27th January 2021. This report makes eight recommendations for making public bodies and their Boards more accessible to and representative of disabled people:
1. Boards should be required to develop reasonable adjustment guidance, recognise reasonable adjustments as part of their standard working practices, and implement them as soon as possible when requested.
2. To remove financial barriers faced by disabled people and others, Boards should be required to either advance expenses payments or book services for Board members directly (for example, travel, accommodation, or support for reasonable adjustments.)
3. All public body Board members should be required to undertake Disability Equality Training at least once during each term. This should be a mandatory element of all new Board members’ on-boarding processes.
4. Public appointments vacancies should be publicised on standard employment websites, disability jobs boards online, and to disabled people’s organisations such as Inclusion Scotland who can forward these opportunities to their partners and members.
5. Develop and publicise case studies championing disabled people as effective Board members, highlighting the value their lived experience brings to the Boardroom.
6. Disabled applicants meeting the minimum criteria should be progressed to the interview stage for public appointments vacancies, and unsuccessful applicants should receive personalised, constructive feedback.
7. Any follow-up project should develop greater interaction between shadows, public Board members, and other decision makers, to promote disabled people’s lived experiences and to implement change to make public appointments more accessible and more representative.
8. Access to Public Appointments should expand to run over a longer period or on an ongoing basis, utilising the framework and learning developed during the pilot.
The Access to Public Appointments pilot gave six disabled people the opportunity to shadow six regulated public body Boards in Scotland over twelve months, with ongoing mentoring from an experienced Board member. The project was a collaboration between between Inclusion Scotland, the Scottish Government Public Appointments Team, and the Ethical Standards Commissioner.
Public body Boards participating in the pilot were:
Through Access to Public Appointments, Boards, Board mentors, and shadows developed productive working relationships with one another. Shadows developed substantial experience of the work undertaken by public bodies and their Boards. Boards and public bodies gained significant insight into disabled people’s lived experiences, and into how disabled people can be active, valuable, and valued contributors to Boards’ work.
Neil Skene, who shadowed the Board of NatureScot, has written about his Access to Public Appointments experience.
A public appointment is a Ministerial appointment to the Board of a public body.
A public body is an organisation created by the Scottish Government or Scottish Parliament which receives all or most of its funding from the Scottish Government. Public bodies deliver the priorities of Ministers or the Scottish Parliament, through the delivery or scrutiny of services.
Public appointments require an ongoing commitment, ranging from a few days a year to a few days a month. This time commitment takes into account attending Board meetings, committee meetings and other stakeholder events.
Board members do not become involved in the day to day running of a public body, but have the opportunity to lend their voice and opinion on subjects that matter to them, whilst gaining new skills and valuable experience.
More information on public appointments can be found at the Scottish Government’s Public Appointments website.