Freedom of information docs show Scots civil service pushing range of controversial Stonewall policies
Christian campaigners have questioned the influence of Stonewall on Scotland’s civil service after it emerged that several controversial policies have been introduced in alignment with Stonewall’s political aims.
A freedom of information response published last week shows applications for a place on Stonewall’s ‘Diversity Champions Index’ by the civil service in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
A suite of new policies have been introduced in the last few years including a compulsory “Diversity Objective” for all staff, training on “intersectionality” and “unconscious bias”, and the use of gender neutral language.
Commenting on the policies, Simon Calvert, Deputy Director for Public Affairs at The Christian Institute, said:
“The extent of Stonewall’s influence on the civil service is alarming, particularly given the controversial nature of some of its political aims. Stonewall’s stance on trans issues is strongly opposed by women’s organisations, medics and faith groups. Yet, the civil service appears to endorse it wholesale. How does this fit with the service’s duty to remain politically impartial?”
Mr Calvert continued:
“Staff are encouraged to attend training sessions on ‘intersectionality’ and ‘unconscious bias’. These controversial ideas are disputed in wider society. So it’s concerning that they are written into the training schedule for civil service employees.
“The compulsory ‘Diversity Objective’ also raises questions. What happens to staff members who hold religious beliefs about marriage, gender or sexuality which differ from those championed by Stonewall? Are they marked down? This could constitute direct discrimination on the grounds of religious belief.”
Statements from civil service applications (emphasis added)
“All staff have mandatory diversity objectives and those who participate in the network use this work as evidence of meeting their objective. Performance is assessed their line manager at their in year review and end year review. Progress is also discussed at monthly conversations.
“We also set out on our performance appraisal intranet page guidance on diversity objectives for individuals including ‘support, participate and be an effective member of one of our staff diversity networks or committees’.
“The guidance for managers states that they should ‘ensure that staff who participate in our staff networks are recognized through the performance management process, ensuring that this activity supports the outcome that the Scottish Government is to become a more diverse and inclusive place to work’”.
“Examples of employee recognition in appraisals:
‘A is very aware of and committed to raising the profile of diversity issues. He is active on the committee of the LGBTI Allies network and has also:
• completed the Stonewall Allies Follow-up Training on 26th January 2017.
• participated in the Diversity Networks Workshop on 22nd February 2017.
• attended an Intersectionality seminar on 24th February 2017
• presented at a team meeting on diversity issues and circulated guidance material afterwards.
• attended an unconscious bias training event.’”
Gender neutral language
“E-HR is our electronic HR system which holds staff records. Mx is a title option for employees to choose. Equally, title is not a mandatory field and employees can choose to omit this if they prefer. Our IT system, SCOTS, does not require a title to be completed when individual’s records are being created.”
“Most of our policies were updated to increase inclusion of gender identities and same-sex couples because we believe firmly that it matters that our policies are explicit about everyone’s entitlement to use them.”
“Paternity leave policy – added “This policy applies to all employees and a reference to ‘partner’ or ‘spouse’ includes same-sex partners and spouses.”; removed reference to “male and female” colleagues when discussing eligibility, stating instead that “ Paternity leave is available to where you are the father, partner or spouse of the child’s mother (or, in the case of adoption, you are the adopter’s spouse or partner); changed ‘adoptive father’ to ‘adoptive parent’.”
“Scottish ministers have indicated that they will consult on changes to the Gender Recognition Act. As part of our commitment to support the LGBTI community within the Scottish Government we are revising our transgender and non-binary policy.”
Revised trans/non-binary policies
“The project aims to review all intertwining aspects of trans and non-binary activity in the Scottish Government. There will be six core products from this work –
1. A data set on staff experiences comprised from questionnaires (Stonewall questionnaire, People Survey, separate survey)
2. A revised HR policy on trans/non-binary for the Scottish Government. It is intended that this policy is co-produced with key stakeholders (including but not limited to Stonewall Scotland and STA).
3. Guidance for line managers which underpins the HR policy
4. Guidance for members of staff who have a child who is transitioning or who identifies as non-binary. The intention is for this to be co-produced by Mermaid, who specialise in advice to parents and families on trans/non-binary enquiries.
5. A communications and engagement plan to ensure knowledge of the policy and accompanying parental guidance is widespread throughout the organisation. The core aspect of this work will be developing a training offer for SG staff.
6. Frequently Asked Questions documents. This will be comprised of three brief and accessible documents: 1) for those who are transitioning within SG; 2) for colleagues; 3) for line managers on how best to support a trans/non-binary member of staff.”
Notes to Editors:
The Christian Institute is a non-denominational registered charity, which seeks to promote the Christian faith in the UK.
It was founded in 1991 by Christian church leaders and professionals and it currently campaigns on a range of issues including marriage and the family, child protection, pro-life concerns, drugs, religious liberty and education, as well as Christianity and the constitution.