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Equality Matters in Business

Scotland is a great place to work, live and study and this popularity continues to grow. However there is a threat to Scotland's economy as it faces a declining and ageing population. Organisations need to tackle this issue now and prepare for the future of their business and Scotland's growth.

A skills shortage, a loss of traditional labour pools and an ageing population mean businesses in Scotland must look at their recruitment policies and widen their search for talent to grow and prosper.

Older people, ethnic minorities, disabled people, women, people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and those from different religious/belief groups offer huge employment potential and business opportunities - but remain under-represented in Scotland's overstretched workforce.

In a bid to redress this imbalance and help promote equality and diversity, the Scottish Government launched Equality Matters in Business in November 2006, a two-year pilot project, mainly aimed at small to medium Enterprise companies. This project is being delivered through Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise.

The Equality Matters in Business (EMiB) initiative is a pioneering project, aimed at working with Scottish businesses to highlight the benefits of good equality and diversity practice to maximise every business opportunity It provides support and helps businesses achieve that competitive edge and maximise their own potential by employing a diverse workforce;

The EMiB project aims to help businesses recognise and develop opportunities which include: A wider choice of potential employees; Access to a broader resource of skills and creativity; Better understanding of customers to grow marketing strategies; An improved business reputation; A proactive approach to legislative compliance; Procurement of public sector contracts.

Managing equality and diversity, both as an employer and as a provider of goods and services, will let businesses respond effectively to the varying needs of staff and customers. If businesses would like further information or support on any aspects of equality and diversity, can call our Helpline service on 0845 607 8787.

The Statistics

- By 2010, only a fifth of the UK's population will be white, male, non disabled and under 45

- There are around 1m disabled people in Scotland, with an annual spending power of £5 billion - making them a valuable consumer group

- An estimated 80% of UK wealth is in the hands of people aged 50-plus

- The age profile of the minority ethnic populations in Scotland is younger than the white population. Over 57% of people from a minority ethnic background are aged under 30 years, compared to only 36% of the white population. (2001 Census)

- It is estimated that the Ethnic Minorities consumer market is worth approx. £32 billion in the UK

- By 2025 half the adult population will be aged 50 and over

- 74% of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) consumers and 42% of heterosexual consumers are less likely to buy products from organisations that hold negative views of LGBT people

- Only 11% of Directors in the UK's top 100 companies are women. (Framework for a fairer Future - The Equality Bill, Government Equalities Office, June 2008)

Further information:

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About Author Paula Mc Nulty :

For further information please call 0141 228 2724 or e-mail

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