Equality, diversity and inclusion

SQA is committed to equality of opportunity and to a culture that respects difference. We believe that, as an employer and public body, we can play a leading part in promoting equality, diversity and inclusion more widely.

The public sector equality duty provides the framework for SQA to positively contribute to a more equal society through advancing equality and good relations in its day-to-day business. The general equality duty requires us to:

Equality Mainstreaming Report

Our Equality Mainstreaming Report 2019-21 (1.82 MB) includes updates on SQA's progress against the equality outcomes we agreed in 2017, our mainstreaming activities, employee information, pay gap information and statement of equal pay. SQA’s detailed workforce equality monitoring data report (1.43 MB) should be read alongside our Equality Mainstreaming Report.

Impact assessments

SQA has produced an Equalities Impact Assessment (1.03 MB) and a Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (1.03 MB) that summarise the evidence SQA considered during the development of the incomplete evidence contingency arrangement.

Equality Outcomes 2021-25

Our Equality Outcomes 2021-25 (174 KB) set out the actions we will take to achieve the revised outcomes and how we will measure our progress. We also provide information about the sources of evidence that we considered to review our priorities and revise SQA’s equality outcomes.

Equal pay statement

SQA is an equal opportunities employer and is committed to ensuring that all staff are treated equally regardless of their age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, marital/civil partner status, religion or belief, disability, pregnancy or maternity. We support the principles that all employees should receive equal pay for the same or like work or work of equal value and will operate a pay and reward system which is fair, transparent and free from bias.

Pay Policy

SQA’s objective is to ensure that it implements fair, just and lawful practices with regards to pay.

In order to meet this objective SQA will:

  • Carry out an annual equal pay review to identify any differences in pay between men and women including occupational segregation. In 2016, SQA extended this review to cover race and disability
  • Review the current pay system in conjunction with SQA’s recognised trade unions to ensure it meets Equal Pay obligations and is consistent with our Corporate Objectives and Values. This includes the maintenance and application of Job Evaluation, in line with SQA’s Job Evaluation Guidance underpinning SQA’s grading structure
  • Carry out Performance Management in line with SQA’s published Performance Management Handbook providing a tool by which an individual’s performance can be measured by their line manager against the achievement of operational objectives
  • Provide advice and guidance to those involved in determining staff salaries in line with SQA’s Pay Procedures
  • Inform staff as to how the pay system operates and how their own pay is calculated in line with SQA’s Pay Procedures
  • Ensure that staff are aware that they can enquire about their pay and grading (including salary progression). Provide prompt response to enquiries and inform staff that, if not satisfied, they can use the procedure set out in SQA’s Dispute Resolution Policy and Procedure

SQA’s equal pay review and occupational segregation information is published as part of its Equality Mainstreaming Report (1.82 MB).

Commitment to race equality in employment

We pledge to put in place the recommendations of the Scottish Parliament's Equalities and Human Rights Committee’s Race Equality, Employment and Skills: Making Progress? report.

Public Sector Leadership Summit – Joint Commitment

The Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee inquiry of 2020 has highlighted the persistent issues that impact on outcomes for minority ethnic people in Scotland during their employment lifecycle.

The Committee’s recommendations below highlight both systemic issues perpetuating race inequality in recruitment practice and in the workplace, as well as the need to improve practices such as the gathering and analysis of workforce data to inform action plans and determine measurable outcomes. The Committee recommends:

  • those in public authority leadership positions undertake an assessment of their organisation’s understanding of racism and the structural barriers that may exist within their organisations. Public authorities should integrate their ambitions into their next strategic plan. Their strategic goal should be underpinned by specific outcomes and supported by timely monitoring. Public authorities should be transparent about their targets and their progress in delivering their outcomes
  • public authorities should review their recruitment procedures and practice against the Scottish Government’s toolkit and make the necessary changes
  • all public authorities subject to the Scottish-specific Public Sector Equality Duty should, as a minimum, voluntarily record and publish their ethnicity pay gap and produce an action plan to deliver identified outcomes.

We accept these recommendations and are committed to implementing them.

We recognise that taking forward the recommendations represent further steps in tackling race inequality. It is important that we make this commitment clear to our employees and members of our community.

As a public sector leader, and as a member of the Public Sector Leadership Summit, SQA is committed to take action to advance equality for minority ethnic staff and service users as outlined by the Scottish Government. We will be bold and transparent. We will embed the recommendations of the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee’s Race Equality, Employment and Skills report into the strategic objectives of our organisation and the performance objectives of our senior leaders. We will take responsibility to assess our organisation’s understanding of institutional racism and proactively challenge and change practices that disadvantage minority ethnic communities. Vitally, we will ensure that minority ethnic communities are involved in shaping this change..

Equality impact assessments

Equality Impact Assessments help to improve policy development and service delivery. Carrying out an equality impact assessment ensures that we proactively consider the different needs of people. It helps to identify potential steps to advance equality, foster good relations, and to ensure that we do not discriminate unlawfully.

SQA aims to ensure that equality impact considerations play an important role in integrating the general equality duty. Subject to relevance and proportionality, equality impact should be assessed on all ‘policies and practices’ – this is interpreted widely to include the full range of the policies, provisions, criteria, functions, practices and activities, including decisions and the delivery of services’ - essentially everything we do.

Equality impact assessment reports

Equality review of qualifications

The Equality Act (2010) places clear duties on SQA not to discriminate against people who wish to be or who are learners for SQA’s qualifications because of their disability, race, age, religion or belief, sex, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity or sexual orientation (known as the protected characteristics).

This means that National Courses must not be unlawfully discriminatory for any learner on grounds of any of these protected characteristics. To meet these duties, SQA carries out an ‘equality review of qualifications process’ for all National Qualifications, to ensure that there is robust and transparent consideration of equalities during development and ongoing maintenance of qualifications. Considerations are recorded on an Equality Review Form for each qualification. These documents are a summary of these reviews.

Equality review summaries

National 5


Advanced Higher

Race at Work Charter Signatory LogoSQA is a signatory of the Business in the Community Race at Work Charter. We know that ethnic minorities face disparities in employment and progression, and that is something we need to change. The Charter is composed of five calls to action.

Disability Confident Employer logoWe are a Disability Confident employer. The Disability Confident scheme helps us on our journey to employing, supporting and retaining disabled people and those with health conditions. As a Disability Confident Employer we have made a commitment to a number of actions and will monitor our progress towards achieving them.

Stonewall Diversity Champion ScotlandWe are also committed to our membership as a Stonewall Scotland Diversity Champion and to promoting a workplace where all employees, including LGBT colleagues, in SQA can be themselves.