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Council / SIC signs up to workplace gender equality programme

Lerwick Town Hall.

SHETLAND Islands Council has signed up to the Equally Safe at Work programme, which aims to promote an inclusive workplace culture which prevents violence against women.

The initiative will involve a number of activities over the next two years, with the first being a staff survey which will gather any experiences of gender inequality, workplace culture, flexible working and violence against women.

Figures show that one in five women experience domestic abuse in their lifetime in Scotland, with over 70 per cent of women experiencing or witnessing sexual harassment in the workplace.

Shetland Islands Council chief executive Maggie Sandison said violence against women is a “cause and consequence” of wider gender inequality.

“Inequality in the workplace is the result of, and supports, wider gender inequality in society,” she said.

“We must address this to help prevent violence against women. Sexism and misogyny have no place in a modern workplace, and I am personally committed to creating a gender-positive employment culture here in Shetland.”

Council leader Steven Coutts added that the local authority is “committed to creating a supportive environment for anyone affected by violence against women, as well as a promoting a culture of zero-tolerance towards the perpetrators of violence against women”.

“One of the council’s stated values is ‘working well together’,” the councillor said.

“All our employees are expected to demonstrate a positive attitude by being open-minded, fair, respectful, trustworthy and honest. A working environment free from gender inequality is an essential part of this.”

Equally Safe at Work has been developed by Close the Gap, which is described as Scotland’s expert policy and advocacy organisation working on women’s labour market participation.