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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 08/03/2024

It’s International Women’s Day so we caught up with our Chair (Chris McCoy) and Co-chair (Cat Leaver) of our VisitScotland Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) steering group to find out more about the group.

We heard from our group leaders about their career experiences, inspiration, and women in leadership.

What does inclusion mean to VisitScotland?

Cat (Co-chair): Inclusion is fundamental to individuals feeling valued and welcomed. It’s about recognising that we’re all different and that offers real advantage to how we look at things and shape our approach.  

At VisitScotland it’s about how we involve and embrace everyone. It’s about ensuring the way we communicate and operate does not exclude or disadvantage. That we involve others in a way that recognises their unique needs, perspectives, skills and experiences. That we welcome questions and challenges. That we champion all voices. Appreciating that this melting pot of differences creates real value, and by feeling included we all feel a sense of belonging.  

Looking beyond VisitScotland, inclusion is a vital ingredient to creating equity.

Can you tell us about the aims and goals of the VisitScotland Equality, Diversity and Inclusion group?

Cat: The VisitScotland Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) steering group was established back in 2020 to try to bring people at all levels from across the organisation together. We wanted to translate our collective experiences, insight and passion into a programme of work that supports us in being as inclusive and representative as we can be.   

Our work focuses on uncovering best practice and great ideas from across the business, identifying gaps, challenging the status quo, and creating an action plan to support continuous improvement.  

Some of our activity includes an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Charter, hearing from guest speakers like Sir Geoff Palmer, Unconscious Bias training, an updated Partnership Marketing agreement incorporating EDI criteria, and the development of educational content for our staff. 

We recognise that we’re not perfect and the job is far from done. We need to continue to work with those staff formally tasked with thinking about EDI matters to ensure it's lived and breathed in every part of the organisation. 

A person at the top of a hill with their hands in the air

As our Head of Brand and Global Marketing, what advice would you give to women looking to get into a leadership role?

Cat: If a leadership role is where you want to go, make sure you have a clarity of vision on what exactly that looks like and why you want to do it. More money or seniority is not a goal in itself; nor is it a recipe for happiness. So, ask yourself what inspires you? Once you understand where your passion lies, it becomes increasingly easy to map out where you add the most value, where you need to focus your development and how to take the next steps. And, when you love what you do, others will want to follow.   

From there, it’s about surrounding yourself with other smart, driven, supportive people and recognising that you don’t have all the answers. The greatest leaders are usually humble and reflective, living the values (and reaping the benefits) of “inclusion” in how they work with others.  

And remember that when the end goal still seems far away, it’s all the little steps that help to get you closer.

What resources does VisitScotland have to embrace equality, diversity and inclusion?

Chris (Chair): EDI training plays a key role in educating and understanding the different pressures that people face, including women, in the workplace. Our new virtual college online training platform covers a variety of EDI subjects, including gender equality.   

Within our organisation, we have a number of staff network groups including a parent’s group, an inclusive network alliance, an LGBTQ+ and carers group, all of which provide information, confidential advice and support.  

EDI at VisitScotland is supported by policies such our Menopause Policy. 

This sets out that we want to create an inclusive well-being culture that will build a safe and secure environment where all employees are treated fairly with dignity and respect. Our policy acknowledges that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to the menopause and so it’s intended as a support guide for all managers and staff. 

A person sitting holding a dog

What inspired you to become an Equality, Diversity & Wellbeing specialist?

Chris: It’s been experiences throughout my career, and there were many, not to mention the LGBTQ+ issues that motivated me into the equality role, some years later.     

I headed up EDI for two different government departments in the UK Government and hopefully made a difference over 30 odd years. Then by some fortuitous route, I found VisitScotland back in 2008. 

Since I started back in 1982, the EDI focus has completely changed, thanks in part to legislation, but that has its limits, and is a whole new conversation, but suffice to say things are a lot better, and the role here in VisitScotland has been great. It’s a privilege to work with the HR team, and the EDI group. 

I have often said my aim is to do myself out of a job - we shouldn’t need EDI managers, it should be what everyone does - but until then I look forward to the work and challenges ahead.

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