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Home Publication Equality in colleges in Scotland: results from the 2017 staff survey and focus groups

Equality in colleges in Scotland: results from the 2017 staff survey and focus groups

Published: 15/05/2018

The first report of its kind considers the experiences of college staff by providing an equality analysis of various aspects of the work environment.  

A questionnaire was disseminated to all colleges and staff were asked questions that measured perceptions and experiences of equality across all protected characteristics (age, disability, gender re-assignment, marital/civil partnership status, pregnancy, race/ethnicity, religion/belief, sex and sexual orientation) in certain aspects of working life, namely:

  • college culture
  • leadership and management
  • recruitment
  • disclosure of equality data
  • life-work balance/leave
  • career development.

The survey was followed by focus groups to further discuss some of the key themes arising from the survey. Focus groups consisted of staff who self-identified as:

  • female
  • male
  • under the age of 29
  • over the age of 50
  • black and minority ethnic (BME)
  • disabled

Some of the key findings include:

  • Disabled staff experienced greater levels of inequality across all aspects of working life and had the highest proportion of staff who did not feel treated fairly in the work place (22.5%).
  • Black and minority ethnic (BME) staff were more likely than white staff to report that their race or ethnicity affected fair treatment in areas such as recruitment and selection, allocation of desirable or sought-after tasks or roles, support from management, representation in senior positions, and promotion decisions.
  • Lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) staff, staff in the over 60 age group, and disabled staff tended to rate the support that they received from management particularly low.
  • Disability, age and sexual orientation were the protected characteristics staff felt least confident in disclosing to their college.
  • The level of information about colleges’ promotion processes and criteria was generally poor among all staff, and varied significantly by gender, disability and age: female staff, disabled staff, and staff in the youngest age group were significantly less informed than male staff, non-disabled staff, and staff in the older age groups.
  • Female survey respondents were, overall, more positive about all aspects of working life than male respondents. However, in focus groups, female participants more willingly shared experiences where they had felt discriminated against based on their gender and/or age than male participants. More broadly, female participants spoke about equality in terms of lived experience, whereas male participants discussed policies and procedures related to equality.

Alongside the report, Advance HE has produced a suite of infographics on the key issues within the report and a short, animated video that was designed to be shared with staff.

Download the report