GENDER and race pay gaps at East Renfrewshire Council are narrowing, a report has revealed.

An update shows the council’s progress in its programme to fulfil equality and human rights duties.

The scheme aims to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

Figures show the gender pay gap, in favour of male employees, fell from 8.6 per cent in 2016/17 to 7.8 per cent in 2017/18.

READ MORE: New housing and more schools feature in 'vision for the future'

The race pay gap remained the same in 2016/17 and 2017/18 at 11.1 per cent, down from 15.2 per cent in 2015/16.

The report, covering the period from 2017 to 2019, states “steady progress has been made towards making East Renfrewshire a place where all are included and no-one is disadvantaged or left behind.

“A continued focus on equality and human rights is required by all so as to maintain progress in the coming years.”

It continues: “The East Renfrewshire population is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse in Scotland, with significant Jewish and Muslim communities.

“Having a diverse workforce, with people from different racial, educational and social backgrounds and a diverse age range, would contribute to a higher standard of service delivery by giving the council a better understanding of its customer.

“Organisations like the council cannot flourish and grow if everyone in them thinks and behaves the same way.”

Council leader Tony Buchanan said the report shows equality and inclusion are “at the heart” of everything the local authority does.

A staff survey shows the council, in 2017/18, had 75 per cent female staff to 25 per cent male.

It also identified that 80 per cent of staff had identified themselves as ‘White Scottish,’ while around 1.4 per cent of those surveyed said they had a disability.

“It is to be hoped that in 2019 when an exercise will be undertaken to encourage employees to complete their equality records then this figure would rise,” the report states.

“What needs to be encouraged is a culture where employees are increasingly more comfortable in disclosing this information or describing themselves as having a disability.”

READ MORE: Customers left out of pocket as Barrhead swim club is sunk by cash crisis

Public engagement on equality commitments was carried out through the Council’s ‘Bridges to Change Community Equality and Human Rights Conference’, which took place in March.

Feedback from the event highlighted a need for the Council to “ensure no group is left behind as an unintended consequence of improving equality and human rights” and for local initiatives to address social isolation.

Other work noted in the report includes training and awareness sessions, including on ‘Life in the UK’, which were delivered to around 50 Syrian refugees and an exhibition of art at Eastwood Park Gallery in January and February this year, which displayed work by Hannah Rose Thomas and Yazidi women from Northern Iraq who had escaped ISIS captivity.

Every two years, the Council is required by law to publish a progress report. Councillors approved the report for publication on the Council’s website.