Making Progress


Ongoing activities 

The Commissioner, his team and the Public Appointments Advisers continue to work in partnership with the Scottish Government towards the joint goal of "effective boards reflective of society" as set out in the Commissioner's strategic plan. The Government has adopted and rolled out the recommended "lessons learned" process with a view to capturing and sharing good practice in relation to all of its appointment activities (see below). Outreach activity is increasing and this, along with revised more accessible approaches to attraction, application and assessment, appear to be bearing fruit. The Commissioner remains cautiously optimistic about progress. The rest of the content on this page contains updates from the Commissioner's annual reports.


2016/17 Annual Report 


 Our 2016/17 Annual Report reveals  that the Scottish Government has continued to make  progress in redressing underrepresentation by gender in particular. The Diversity Delivers target for applications from women was exceeded for the second year running and there are now more women on Scotland's boards - at 45.1% - than at any time since this has been recorded. There was also a modest improvement in respect of BME underrepresentation.

Less positive is the fact that underrepresentation of disabled people and those aged under 50 has risen during 2016. A key message is that more applications from both groups must be encouraged.

The Commissioner has made some additional recommendations in his report - further to those published in 2015/16 - with a view to enabling improvement in these areas.


2015/16 Annual Report


Our 2015/16 Annual report showed that there had been significant progress in two areas; redressing gender and BME underrepresentation. The target for applications from women, as set out in Diversity Delivers, was exceeded for the first time.

The Commissioner made recommendations in respect of other currently underrepresented groups and planned to work with the Scottish Government on appropriate activities in the year ahead with a view to the boards of public bodies being both effective and reflective of society.


 2014/15 Annual Report

Our 2014/15 Annual report showed that there continued to be a rise in the case of appointees who declared they are disabled. This figure sat at 2.4% in 2004/05 and rose again in the year: it sat at 15.3%. The Commissioner acknowledged that significant progress was still required in respect of gender representation but was cautiously optimistic about this year's figure. The percentage of women on boards rose, albeit modestly, to 38.4%. Appointments of people from a visible BME background remained relatively static with 2.9% declaring as BME in comparison with 4% of the population in Scotland.


As with all cases of under-representation on boards, the Commissioner is confident that the untapped talent is out there. The Commissioner, his team and the Scottish Government are committed to working harder to foster cultural change and to encourage applications.

The Commissioner worked with the Scottish Government's Public Appointments and Corporate Diversity Programme to that end over this period. The Commissioner shared the programme board's ambitions and those of the Scottish Ministers and their officials to encourage a still wider range of talented people from all backgrounds to apply for and be appointed to the boards of public bodies. The activities that were individually and jointly engaged in during the year and the new and innovative opportunities for joint working that were recommended and planned for the year ahead are referred to in the Commissioner's annual report for 2015/16. The Commissioner firmly believes that concerted effort can make a difference to the delivery of diversity.


Since that time, in support of the Scottish Government's activities, we have been posting examples of good practice to our website for selection panels to consider following. The year also saw the Commissioner conduct a thematic review into whether good practice lessons were being learned from round to round. We published our report on findings and whilst it did identify that there was no systematic process in place to capture and roll out good practice, the review did lead to a commitment on the part of Scottish Government officials to establish one.



The Commissioner laid a progress report with the Equal Opportunities Committee of the Scottish Parliament on 03 October 2011. The report, entitled Diversity Delivers - Three Years On, can be downloaded from the publications page of our website. It describes the progress made by the Scottish Government against the Commissioner's strategy at September 2011.

In May 2012 the Scottish Government provided the Commissioner with a detailed breakdown of applicant statistics. Based on the information available* we know that for applications for appointments made in the financial year 2011/2012:

  • 31% of applicants were female
  • 34% of people appointed to boards were female
  • 14.1% of applicants declared a disability
  • 11.2% of people appointed to boards declared a disability
  • 3.3% of applicants were from a minority ethnic background
  • 6.4% of people appointed to boards were from a minority ethnic background.

These figures showed that Scottish Government did not achieve the targets set in Diversity Delivers.

The Scottish Government undertook to develop a detailed action plan to further improve the diversity of applicants to public appointments and we have continued to monitor progress made to improve the diversity of people applying for and being appointed to positions on the boards of our public bodies. Annual updates on progress in this respect appear in the Diversity section of our annual reports.


*A small proportion of applicants did not complete the equality monitoring form in full so the data is not complete.