Scottish Government
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Closing the gender gap

Consultation opens on mandatory quotas for public boards

The Scottish Government is consulting on proposed mandatory quotas to ensure at least 40 per cent of public boards are made up of women. 

The legislation will bridge the gender gap and create more effective boards, Cabinet Secretary for Equalities, Shona Robison has said.

The consultation examines the imbalances in women’s representation on boards and gathers views on how we can address any inequality, if required. Currently this power sits with the UK Government.

The consultation Women On Board: Quality Through Diversity asks how mandatory quotas could be implemented for public bodies, and if potential legislation should be extended to company boards.

Ms Robison said:

“It’s clear that even in this day and age we still have gender inequality on our public boards.

“That is why we are taking our commitment to women’s representation further than any other Scottish Government has done before.

“Our ambition is for Scotland’s public and corporate institutions to properly reflect the communities they serve, which will contribute to moving us towards the more equal Scotland we wish to see.

“This consultation is looking for views on how mandatory quotas that ensure a minimum of 40 per cent of women’s representation could be introduced.

“The results of that consultation will help make our case to the Westminster Government that Scotland should have responsibility for these issues. Following independence these powers would come to Scotland anyway and we will not have to rely on Westminster’s agreement.

“Every women should be able to fulfil their potential in the labour market and in their wider life.

“Scottish women make up 52 per cent of our population. They clearly have a voice to be heard and we will do all that we can to make sure this happens by driving forward this consultation on legislation.”

Next month, the Scottish Government will hold the first ever all-women Cabinet event in Edinburgh. Taking place on June 9th - the date will also mark 100 days to go until the independence referendum.

The all-women Cabinet event will bring together women from organisations across Scotland to discuss all of the issues of importance in the referendum. It will explore the opportunities to promote and improve gender equality with independence. Issues such as female representation on boards, the improvement of childcare and employment will also be on the agenda.

Notes To Editors


The consultation can be found online via

The Scottish Government does not have legislative powers in this area and as part of moving forward has opened up dialogue with the UK Government about transferring powers under section 30 of the Scotland Act 1998.

Such powers would give the Scottish Parliament additional levers for change, should it choose to use them where other mechanisms are not working or are not changing things fast enough.

Given the support for movement on this issue in Parliament we will look to further explore with those with an interest in this issue, the legislative options that could be open to us if we had the powers.


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