Dear businessmen and women in rural Scotland,
I am writing to you today, in the hope that we can work together to increase the number of opportunities for women in our rural communities, to create a fairer society and stronger economy.
I recognise and value the contribution your businesses make to the economic and cultural life of communities right across rural and remote Scotland. Our village pubs, hotels, grocers or butchers are often the lifeblood of the community – places where we meet, shop or eat. But, importantly, you create jobs and sustain communities.
While much progress has been made in recent years to increase women’s employment in Scotland, in our rural communities the employment gap remains real and persistent. The gap between the number of men and women in rural areas is 8.2 per cent, compared to an average gap of 6.2 per cent across Scotland. In the Highland Council area it’s even higher, at 13.3 per cent.
The only way we’ll tackle this is by working together as a community to create opportunities, particularly for young women, to work and advance their career in rural communities. This means doing everything we can to break down the barriers that so often prevent women from working in certain professions or from taking up leadership positions.
One of the ways that businesses can play their part is by signing up to the Scottish Government’s Scottish Business Pledge or to the Partnership for Change. By joining these schemes you will be committing to having a more diverse workplace and a more productive workforce.
You can find more information about these schemes here:
I look forward to working with you on this issue.