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Mountaineering Scotland: our approach to equality and diversity

Thursday 11th June 2020, 12:34pm

The #BlackLivesMatter campaign has received public endorsement in the climbing and outdoor community, driven by a strength of feeling that there is no place for racial prejudice in modern society. We wholeheartedly agree.

In response to the recent events and public demonstrations which have been widely reported in the media, we’ve been reflecting on the issues which have been raised and what this means for Mountaineering Scotland and Scotland’s climbing, hillwalking and ski touring community more generally.

There is no question there is much to be done to promote diversity and equality and a key part of that is to tackle prejudice in all its forms. Whilst we continue to act first and foremost as an organisation representing hillwalkers, climbers and ski tourers in Scotland, we also act as a socially responsible membership organisation which has a continued long-term commitment to helping tackle inequality and promote diversity in our membership and the outdoor sector more generally.

This is no straightforward task – we recognise that inequalities do exist in our sport across a range of protected characteristics including race, gender, religious beliefs, disability and sexual orientation, and our aim is to identify where we can have the most impact, take positive action to remove barriers and support opportunities for participation for people who wish to get involved.

At time of writing, we hold diversity data for 20% of our members. Of those that responded, 6.5% identify as being from minority ethnic groups, with 1.5% identifying as Black or Asian and 5% as being from white non-UK ethnic groups. The proportion for the entire population of Scotland at the last census in 2011 was 8%.  There is clearly work to do here, and whether our figure is a true reflection of our entire membership is difficult to say at this point. We continue to gather more data, so that we can monitor this and work to address the imbalance.

Mountaineering Scotland developed our approach to helping to tackle inequality and promote diversity by working to achieve the Preliminary Level of the Equality Standard for Sport in 2017, the second level of four. At this level an equalities action plan was developed alongside an equality policy and review of our recruitment procedures to ensure they are fair and open to all.

This led on to work with groups including Boots and Beards/Bonnie Boots who have been doing a fantastic job promoting climbing and hillwalking for the BAME community in Glasgow. We have also been working to establish more access to para climbing through clubs and competition, increasing female participation in climbing and mountaineering and are committed to increasing diversity within the sector and our membership.

We also know that there is need to improve diversity in our leaders in the outdoors. This is an issue which Mountain Training Scotland is trying to address though its bursary scheme set up to target financial support to those from more diverse backgrounds.

The Mountaineering Scotland board has agreed to make a further commitment to achieving the standards required for meeting the Intermediate (third) Level of the Equality Standard for Sport, which requires a more detailed action plan to identify which groups we will be targeting in our work and use of membership data to track how effective we are against national statistics. We are confident about making a submission for this level and our next target will be level four (Advanced), which we understand has only been achieved by one other Sport Governing Body in Scotland so far.

Like many aspects of our work we have had to adapt in the face of the current health crisis, however the commitment to obtaining the intermediate standard will continue as we exit lockdown and normal business starts to resume. Although progress has been made we recognise there is more work to do and we encourage members who may be interested in helping us progress this important agenda to get in touch at info@mountaineering.scot.


Further information


Some outdoor groups and organisations supporting inclusion:


Other areas of our work:

Mountaineering Scotland is a not for profit membership organisation and the voice of Scotland's hillwalkers, climbers, mountaineers and ski tourers. We could not continue our vital work for Scotland's mountains and mountaineers without the support of our members.

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