A pool of applicants as diverse as the people of Scotland, aware of and attracted by the work of our public bodies and the opportunities to serve on their boards.
- Increase awareness amongst the general public of the role, value and diversity of public bodies.
- Increase awareness amongst the general public of the role of board members and the wide range of people we need to serve on the boards of public bodies.
- Attract interest, create enthusiasm and encourage action by the widest appropriate pool of potential applicants.
70% of people in Scotland have little knowledge of our public bodies, their boards and how to serve on them.
Therefore, most people do not have the opportunity to apply or to be selected for appointment.
To achieve equality of opportunity, we must make many more people aware of the opportunities available and address the widespread lack of engagement with public appointments.
Awareness and Attraction
Recommended Actions – In summary
A1. Develop and deliver an on-going communication campaign to promote
- the diverse roles and functions of public bodies
- the role of their board members
- the wide range of people needed by boards
- the opportunities to serve on them
- the benefits of serving on a board – for the individual and their employer.
A2. Build an accessible hub website, supported by personal contact, to inform everyone interested in public appointments. Provide signposts to sources of further information and support.
A3. Enhance the content of publicity material for public appointments and monitor the impact of publicity strategies on the number and diversity of applicants.
A4. Research the impact of
- board meeting times and arrangements
- remuneration on the number and diversity of applications.
Awareness and Attraction
Recommended Actions – In detail
Short Term (Years 1, 2, 3)
A1S. Communication campaign
Mount a campaign that
- informs the public about the work of public bodies and their boards
- sells the benefits to be gained from board membership
- inspires people to apply.
Include in this campaign:
Recruit a number of board role models, drawn from a wide variety of backgrounds, levels and types of education, ages and locations. Enlist their support in the activities outlined below to reinforce consistent, positive and encouraging messages about their work as board members.
Board member profiles
- Arrange a series of features about - or interviews with - board role models in local press and in magazines connected with the work of the board on which they sit.
- Arrange a series of features about - or interviews with - board role models on national, local and community radio stations.
- Involve board role models in a promotional campaign after the television news. Use it to promote the value of their role and the opportunities to serve on the boards of our public bodies.
- Publish profiles of the board members on each public body’s website, focusing on their diversity. As well as visible diversity, highlight the differences that cannot be seen, for example in board members’ backgrounds, education and experience.
- Produce a short guide to the work of public bodies and the role and contribution of board members. Supply it to centres where people visit or wait, such as doctors’ and dentists’ surgeries and local council offices, and community outlets such as libraries and local authority buildings used for adult education classes. Include contact details for further information and use the guide to promote the supporting DVD (see below).
- Explore opportunities to enclose the guide with other, widely distributed documents, for example
- council tax bills
- electoral roll forms
- income tax returns
- charities’ annual return forms.
- Produce a DVD featuring board role models focusing on their work, what they bring to the board they sit on and what they gain from their work on the board. Distribute it along with the written guide. Use the DVD at all relevant events, such as appointment fairs, meetings and workshops.
Run meetings across Scotland describing the work of public bodies and their boards. Advertise these, for example, in the promotional guide, on the hub website and in local newspapers. Work with community groups and equality networks to run meetings for their members. Enlist the help of board role models to inform and inspire people about the opportunities on our public boards.
Run similar meetings in workplaces across Scotland. Highlight the benefits of board membership for the employer as well as the individual. Encourage employers to see board positions as opportunities for staff to develop skills and experience.
Social networking sites
Explore the use of online social networking sites to raise the profile of public appointments and provide information.
A2S. Hub website
Develop a fully accessible ‘hub’ website for public appointments that is designed and written to engage with a diverse audience. Particular attention must be given to targeting and attracting groups currently under-represented on the boards of our public bodies, including women, people from a minority ethnic background, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and disabled people. Ensure that the hub website is an exemplar of best practice in terms of disability accessibility.
To ensure equality of access, also provide a non-web based source of information such as a telephone contact and make printed materials available.
Provide a self-assessment tool on the website where, by answering a series of questions about their skills and interests, the user receives their personal pathway to becoming a board member. This ‘route map’ will signpost them to appropriate development and appointment opportunities, for example, the opportunities highlighted in the Education and Experience section.
Position the hub website at the centre of the public appointments process, providing:
- information on appointment opportunities
- online guides to the work of public bodies, the role of a board member and the application process
- an online application facility
- signposts to education and development programmes
- online development activities (for example, a modular education programme for potential board members)
- reciprocal links to other sources of support and guidance (for example, OCPAS, equalities and governance bodies)
- details of relevant events – open board meetings of public bodies, events and workshops and appointment fairs
- downloadable podcasts of relevant meetings and events
- the facility to register as part of a talent bank of potential applicants with confidential details of skills, knowledge and areas of interest
- board member blogs.
Approach professional bodies that already have talent banks. Investigate whether members of these talent banks could be encouraged to register on the public appointments hub website.
Ensure that all the above information is also accessible to non-internet users and that alternative formats are readily available on request.
Produce promotional leaflets and posters to raise awareness of the hub website.
Supply them to community outlets such as libraries and local authority buildings used for adult education classes. Display them on public transport.
A3S. Publicity material and monitoring
- Produce all publicity and application documents in a more encouraging, less formal style.
- Include in application packs a welcome letter from the chair of the body or the Minister, thanking people for their interest. Include in the pack a named contact who can help potential applicants with any queries and provide encouragement and advice on their application.
- Encourage individuality in advertisements to reflect the unique character of the role or the public body in question.
- Make clear in publicity and application packs the support people can expect if appointed. Include details of induction and any ongoing training or mentoring. State the support available for people with disabilities, both for attending an interview and after appointment. This might include the provision of a loop system, board papers being available in accessible formats or a personal assistant’s travel costs being covered.
- Analyse for each appointment round by means of a monitoring form:
- the profile of applicants by the following characteristics
- religion or belief
- sexual orientation
- employment status and sector (public, private, voluntary, self-employed, retired, academic)
- income band
- location (by region)
- where the applicants in each of the above categories heard of the appointment vacancy
- how far the applicants in each of the above categories progressed in the round.
- Make sure the monitoring form is carefully and sensitively worded, to inform applicants about how their information will be used and assure them it will be held securely and treated confidentially. Offer applicants a ‘prefer not to answer’ option for every question.
- Make sure the form reflects current good practice in monitoring demographic information. Make sure it enables all relevant comparisons to be made with statistics for the general population of Scotland. In particular, make sure the analysis of applicants’ ethnicity is detailed enough to allow comparisons with the growing population of white ethnic minorities in Scotland, as well as non-white minority groups.
- Collate the information to provide an annual picture of the source of different categories of applicants and their progress. Use the findings:
- to inform the impact assessments required to meet the public sector duties to promote equality (see Part Two - Implementation), and
- to update the information bank recommended below under ‘Targeted publicity’.
- Compile an information bank containing all the potential methods for publicising appointment opportunities and a record of how effective each one has been in attracting applicants.
- Use this information bank for every appointment round to ensure targeted publicity, appropriate to the nature of the appointment, the public body and the diversity of potential applicants.
- Include in this bank specialist publications and media whose target audiences are currently under-represented in public appointments. Examples might include Insight Radio, Disability Now and Awaz FM.
A4S. Research on board meeting arrangements and remuneration
- Carry out research around
- times and arrangements for board meetings and
- remuneration for public appointments.
- Find out the effect they have on people’s motivation or ability to apply.
- Find out whether flexible arrangements for board meetings would enable more people, or more people from certain groups, to apply. Establish whether geographical diversity could be improved by varying the location of meetings or by using telephone or video conferencing facilities. Research the effect of current board meeting arrangements on applications from people with caring or work responsibilities.
- Research how being paid for a public appointment affects entitlement to benefits, such as Disability Living Allowance and Carer’s Allowance. Assess the impact of the research findings on people’s opportunity to be considered for appointment. Identify ways to overcome any adverse impact.
Awareness and Attraction
Recommended Actions – In detail
Medium Term (Years 4, 5)
A1M. Communication campaign
Review the impact of the communication campaign and refocus as appropriate. Add the following:
Develop and run annual public appointment fairs that promote civic participation. Base them on the model used by recruitment fairs – stands, presentations, workshops and one-to-one advice sessions. Share participation and cost with other public and voluntary sector bodies that aim to attract people from a cross-section of Scottish society.
Take part in public events to raise awareness of public appointments. For example, run a public appointments stand at Pride Scotia or at the ‘Our Health’ events.
Review the impact of television programmes about the work of public bodies in other parts of the UK. For example, a Northern Ireland programme, ‘Life Matters’ has been produced about the Belfast Trust and includes coverage of public appointments to the trust. BBC2 screened a documentary series about the work of the Parole Board in England and Wales in November 2006. Assess the value of using such programmes to promote board membership in Scotland.
A2M. Hub website
Enhance the online application facility to enable:
- optional automatic completion of core sections of the application form for applicants who apply for more than one post
- personal email alerts to be sent to registered users about vacancies that match their interests and/or skills
- statistical analysis of information from monitoring forms to identify applicant trends.
Continue to provide non web-based information and enable non web-based applications - including providing alternative formats on request - to ensure equality of access for those who do not use a computer or have access to the internet.
Continue to conduct the monitoring outlined for years 1-3. If there are sections of the population where application numbers and progress through the system are not improving, investigate and consider positive action.
Conduct a survey of applicants’ experiences throughout the process. Compare with the results of the Commissioner’s 2007 survey to measure the impact of changes to the process. Use the results to decide how improvements can be made.
Repeat the ICM telephone poll conducted in August 2007. Measure any changes in awareness of public bodies, public appointments and the open nature of the appointments process across different demographic groups.
Recommended Actions – In detail
Longer Term (Years 6+)
A1L. Communication campaign
Extend the communication campaign to younger people, who may not yet be in a position to hold a public appointment, but whose knowledge and interest could be encouraged from a young age.
- Arrange features on youth-led radio stations in Scotland.
- Promote public bodies and public appointments at graduate recruitment fairs.
- Develop activities and information packs for schools, to promote board membership as an opportunity for civic participation.