Edinburgh-led project to create more diverse workplace receives funding

Edinburgh-led project to create more diverse workplace receives funding

Joy Lewis

An Edinburgh-led project to improve career progression for women and minority ethnic workers has received part of £800,000 available in government funding.

Social enterprise Adopt an Intern Ltd (AAI EmployAbility) will lead the Diversity Works programme at Edinburgh-based Aegon Asset Management.

The project is designed to embed sustained changes through the integrated delivery of online training, coaching and support to 30 senior managers within the financial services company. It is one of 13 projects that successfully applied to the Scottish Government’s Workplace Equality Fund, driving forward Scotland’s Fair Work Framework.

The fund is being administered by Advice Direct Scotland, and recipients will now receive grants to address long-standing barriers in the labour market. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon first launched the fund in 2018 and it is designed to ensure that everyone – irrespective of race, disability or gender – can fulfil their potential and improve Scotland’s economic performance as a result.

AAI EmployAbility will use accredited approaches to level up the prospects for career progression for minority ethnic workers, in particular women, and women returners. It is estimated that around 1,400 staff will be impacted by the project. The partner organisations have committed to sharing any lessons learned through legacy reporting.

The Scottish Government’s Fair Work Framework sets out what fair work means in Scotland, offering all individuals an effective voice, opportunity, security, fulfilment, and respect. It is being used to fund projects that are focused on one or more priority groups such as women, minority ethnic workers, disabled workers and workers aged over 50. Other priority groups include people who experience gender-based violence, workers who are experiencing social isolation and/or loneliness, and workers experiencing symptoms of menopause.

Earlier this year, Advice Direct Scotland encouraged charities, third sector organisations, public sector organisations and private sector businesses to apply through its equality advice service. A total of 54 applications were received, with 13 schemes now selected to receive funding.

Joy Lewis, CEO at AAI EmployAbility, said: “The empowerment of marginalised groups has always been key to the AAI mission.

“We’re thrilled to be working with Aegon Asset Management on the important issue of removing barriers and implementing changes to support talented minority ethnic workers. This has been made possible through the Workplace Equality Fund.”

Conor Forbes, director of policy at Advice Direct Scotland, said: “We are proud to have worked with the Scottish Government to deliver this important fund. This initiative acts as a source of financial support for Scottish businesses and organisations that are striving to improve equality-related outcomes for priority groups in the workplace.

“As an inclusive and progressive organisation with a diverse workforce, Advice Direct Scotland understands how valuable this is. The 13 successful applicants include a range of inspiring projects designed to increase diversity and inclusion in a variety of different sectors, all around Scotland.

“The Workplace Equality Fund will support employers to address and resolve long-standing barriers facing under-represented groups within the labour market and will help to promote and embed principles of inclusivity and fairness within Scotland’s workplaces.” 

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