Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group Terms of Reference


The Church of Scotland is the church of Jesus Christ, that is, the community of those gathered into the diverse body of Christ by the power of the Spirit for the worship of God, witness to the gospel, and service to the world. It is part of the duty of the Assembly Trustees to seek to build and strengthen local congregations as centres of worship, care, nurture, service, witness and mission.

The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Group of the Assembly Trustees is established to raise awareness of and offer guidance, resources and signposting on EDI issues in all areas of the life of the Church. The aim is for all members, adherents, staff, volunteers and those engaged in Ministries to be and feel valued and welcomed.


1. The remit of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group (the "Group") will

  • Assist the Assembly Trustees in the formulation of an appropriate vision and strategy for the Church on matters of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. Once approved by General Assembly, this will act as a framework for the Assembly Trustees and the Group to guide and determine the work of the Group.
  • Propose to the Assembly Trustees any areas of the work of the Church and training which require improved awareness and understanding around issues of equality, diversity, and inclusion.
  • Report to the Assembly Trustees as to the promotion of equality, diversity and inclusion within the Church, seeking approval for new work, and updating on existing work streams.

2. Group Membership

The Group will comprise the following:

  • A Convener, appointed for a four-year, non-renewable term and not being a member of staff.
  • A Vice-convener, appointed for a three-year, non-renewable term and not being a member of staff.
  • A Secretary, who may be a member of staff.
  • Nine further members approved by the Assembly Trustees, each of whom may serve a renewable term.
    • Of those first appointed, three will serve three years, renewable for a further three years, three will serve two years, renewable for three years and three will serve one year, renewable for three years.
    • Of those later appointed, the initial term will be three years renewable for three years.
  • An Assembly Trustee by virtue of office.
  • The Chief Officer by virtue of office.
  • The Head of Faith Action Programme by virtue of office.
  • The Solicitor of the Church by virtue of office
  • The Head of HR by virtue of office.
  • Representative of the Head of Communications
  • Such further members of staff as may be appropriate and approved by the Chief Officer

Members otherwise than by office will be appointed in accordance with a system approved by the Assembly Trustees and the Nomination Committee.

3. Budget

A budget for the work of the Group will be agreed as part of the Church's annual budget processes to be agreed by the Assembly Trustees and presented for approval to the General Assembly as part of the work of the Assembly Trustees.

4. Group Working

The Group may establish subsidiary Working Groups, as approved by the Assembly Trustees, to conduct specific projects related to its remit. Project proposals, together with any necessary business cases and budgetary considerations, will be brought to the Trustees by the Chief Officer.

The Group will interact with Presbyteries and Congregations in processes approved by the Assembly Trustees.

The Group will report to the Assembly Trustees on a quarterly basis and the Assembly Trustees will liaise with the Group as to the appropriate terms in which the work of the Group will be included within the report of the Assembly Trustees to the General Assembly.

The Assembly Trustees, in discussion with the Group, will adopt a communications strategy for the Group.

5. Review

The appropriateness of the terms of this remit will be reviewed annually by the Group and the Assembly Trustees.

Terms of Reference

The Terms of Reference are intended to give an operational outline of how the EDI Group will function in relation to its remit and membership.


The United Kingdom Equalities Act 2010 (the "Act") is the current legislative context to equality, diversity, and inclusion. It names the nine protected characteristics – age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation.

The Act protects people against discrimination, harassment and victimisation on the basis of the protected characteristics with regards to employment and as users of private and public services. There are particular duties laid on public sector bodies in relation to the Act in the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED). In 2018, the Fairer Scotland Duty came into force, enacted as part of the Equality Act. It places a duty on particular public bodies to actively consider how they can reduce inequalities of outcome caused by socioeconomic disadvantage.

The Act provides exemptions in relation to the protected characteristics of religion or belief and sexual orientation which apply specifically to bodies with an ethos based on religion or belief.

The Church of Scotland (the "Church") is bound by the Act, and its Human Resources Department is therefore represented on the EDI Group as a key stakeholder in the implementation of equalities legislation. The Discipline Act (Act 1 2019) (as amended by Act 12 2020) makes reference to the Act in that direct or indirect discrimination in terms of the Act is a disciplinary offence.

The Act has had significant impact in Scotland and the Church has not been unaffected by the public conversation around, for example, discrimination, equality, access to buildings for disabled people the presence and needs of minority ethnic communities. Changing societal attitudes, which both drive and are shaped by legislation, have also impacted upon the Church, for example in relation to its ongoing work to highlight gender-based violence and debates on same-sex relationships. Similarly, the self-understanding of the Church as a place where "all are welcome" and as a "church without walls" have clear implications for how equality, diversity and inclusion happen within it. At a basic yet significant level equality means treating people with fairness and justice; diversity means respecting and valuing people for who they are, made in God's image; and inclusion means making real the embrace and welcome of God. So, EDI is about attitudes and behaviours, by individuals and groups throughout the Church. This is the context, therefore, in which the EDI Group seeks to raise awareness of equality, diversity and inclusion.


The overall strategy for the work of the Group from year to year will be determined and reviewed annually by the Group, meeting in full session and attended, whether in person or electronically, by at least 75% of the staff members and 75% of the appointed members.

The overall strategy will identify the proposed outcomes and activities in the programme of work for the immediate future, in line with the purpose and remit of the Group. It will identify the appropriate allocation of resources for the anticipated activities and will assign risk ownership. Insofar as necessary areas of activity will be prioritised.

Terms of Reference for Working Groups

The EDI Group may establish working groups to conduct specific projects related to its terms of reference. Working groups will relate and refer to the EDI Group in the following ways:

  • Working groups will undertake timebound, defined and actionable projects that focus on a specific need or desired impact.
  • The establishment of a working group shall be agreed by the EDI Group and be allocated resources from the budget, which can be reviewed as the project develops.
  • Working Groups shall be assigned a member of staff who will act as project manager; the member of staff will be agreed with the Chief Officer and they need not be a member of the EDI Group.
  • Working groups will follow the defined processes and procedures as outlined by the EDI Group. Adjustment may be made following consultation with the EDI Group.
  • The working group's project manager has autonomy to develop the project within the agreed remit and report to the EDI Group and the Group Secretary as they do so. Work may focus on:
    • Research (filling a gap in institutional knowledge) with a view to using research as building an evidence base for recommendations and future work.
    • Evaluating particular functions within the Church e.g. Presbytery reporting, worship resources etc. with a view to basing recommendations and future work on knowledge of: (a) what resources the Church already possesses and can be promoted or revised, (b) where models of good practice can be identified, and implemented elsewhere and (c) areas of improvement that need to be addressed.
    • Embedding knowledge widely within the Church.
    • Targeted policy development.
    • Learning and/or development projects


Kirk Sessions, Congregational Boards and Presbyteries as well as Central Services Staff can interact with and call upon the EDI Group in a range of ways including:

  • To discuss with the Group issues and challenges relating to EDI, with a view to problem solving through collaboration within the Church.
  • To engage with the Group on proposing and designing constructive forms of dialogue, coaching, support and continuing professional and personal development relating to EDI.
  • Seek advice on embedding EDI practices and assessing the equality impact of a strategy, resource or project.
  • Engage with ideas, actionable recommendations and resources that the EDI Group produces.


The EDI Group agrees the definitions given at Appendix 1 and recommends these serve as a shared point of reference across the Church.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Values

The EDI Group is committed to and seeks inspiration from each of the six agreed National Office values in all that it does.

The Group has also identified and agreed a set of EDI-specific values to guide and inform the identity of the Group, its behaviour and to be reflected in the outcomes of its work. These values were selected through a process that recognised some of the specific challenges involved in EDI work.

EDI Group values

Courage: Courage to advocate for and implement change in the face of opposition or amidst challenging circumstances. The Group views accountability as the intersection of courage and honesty. Courage enables personal development as we commit to review our positions and perhaps change our minds as we learn together (1 John 4:18).

Love: The Group hopes to function in and embody love as it is outlined in 1 Corinthians: 13

Integrity: Living out values as well as speaking them (James 2:17). The Group will ‘live-out' these values through its behaviours, choices, outcomes and output. Integrity is the consistent outward expression of honesty – a wholeness (Psalm 26:3).

Honesty: People function without deception, they communicate truthfully (Ephesians 4:15) and there is a collective awareness of the nature of personal bias. The Group will help create and develop honest cultures throughout the Church beginning with the Group itself

Transparency: To approach all situations with openness. The Group commits to communicating with clarity and acting with clear intentions (Matthew 5:37). Aims and outputs of the Group may flex over time as we respond to a changing landscape but the Group warmly invites inquiry.

Respect: grows from love for one another (Mark 12:31). Respect manifests itself as an appreciation for a range of opinions and expressions and a commitment to provide equal opportunity of representation. Respect is not conformity nor does it necessitate agreement: It is unity-in-diversity (1 Corinthians 12).

National Office values

Grace: Acting with humility in all our endeavours

Innovation: Thinking creatively about building for the future and embracing change

Integrity: Acting with honesty, responsibility and accountability

Professionalism: Demonstrating commitment and striving for excellence

Collaboration: Working together to connect and communicate in an open and transparent environment

Respect: Valuing others, ensuring equality and inclusiveness


The EDI Group is accountable to the Assembly Trustees, and the Assembly Trustees will provide oversight to ensure that the EDI Group is acting in accordance with its remit. There is also an understanding that the EDI Group and working groups are accountable to those who live with the issues we are researching and attempting to address; as well as the Trustees and Groups that we report to.

  • The Assembly Trustees report on the progress and activities of the EDI Group to the General Assembly
  • The Assembly Trustees resource, support and respond to the reports, issues and recommendations of the EDI Group
  • EDI Group reports progress and recommendations and issues to the Assembly Trustees
  • Working groups will conduct specific projects related to EDI's terms of reference.


The EDI Group is authorised by the Assembly Trustees to undertake activities within its terms of reference. Working groups undertaking project and research work on behalf of the EDI Group will report their progress, findings and recommendations to the EDI Group for consideration.


Membership principles

The Group shall include Church members and office holders, as well as staff whose role and experience are connected to the work of the EDI Group. There should be enough staff to help support the work and activity of the Group, but the numbers of staff members and appointed members should be balanced.

Working with the Nominating Committee, the effective working of the Group is enabled through the members having appropriate skills, experience and diversity. There should be a mix of sphere of influence; lived experience of a protected characteristic (see Appendix 1); skills relating to implementing measures relating to equality, diversity and inclusion; and theological outlook which reflects the diversity within the Church.

Current Membership

Staff members will contribute to this work alongside their current roles, seeking approval from their line managers, to enable them to participate and lead working groups and aspects of work within the EDI Group.

Name Term length
John Swinton 4 years
Mandy Ralph (Vice-Convener) 3 years
Philip Ziegler (in accordance with term length on the Assembly Trustees)
Mary Macleod n/a
Dave Kendall (Staff) n/a
Mirella Yandoli (Staff) n/a
Mark Cooper 3 years
Jessie Fubara-Manuel 1 year
Kay Keith 3 years
Shirley Grieve (Staff) n/a
Noelle Maye (Safeguarding) n/a
Roger McAdoo 3 years
Elaine McCloghry (Staff - HR) n/a
Blair Robertson 3 years
Tamsin Dingwall TBC
Helen Silvis (Staff - Communications) n/a
Gordon Strang 2 years
Justin Taylor (Faith Impact Forum Member) 2 years

Role of Members

Members of the Group will be expected to:

  • Attend Group meetings and contribute to the agenda as necessary
  • Promote the work of the EDI Group within their sphere of influence or department (in the case of staff volunteers)
  • Take ownership of the EDI objectives and outcomes assigned to them

Supporting network

The Group shall maintain regular communication with members from the wider Church who are needed to support and inform specific areas of work. On occasion some of these members might be co-opted onto the Group or attend individual meetings for a specific enquiry or issue. These members can, but not exclusively, include:

  1. Principal Clerk
  2. Members of the Theological Forum
  3. Head of Organisational Programmes
  4. Convener and senior staff of Faith Impact Forum
  5. Convener and senior staff of Faith Nurture Forum
  6. Convener and senior staff of General Trustees
  7. Convener and senior staff of The Guild
  8. Mission Statistics Co-ordinator
  9. Project Managers from EDI working groups
  10. Members of the Ecumenical Relations Committee
  11. Convener of INtegrity (Church of Scotland task group on violence against women)

The Group shall appoint a Convener and Vice-Convener to chair meetings and speak on behalf of the group where appropriate. The Convener and Vice Convener will liaise with the EDI Group Secretary and the Chief Officer on meeting agendas and decisions that need to be made between meetings.


Meetings shall be held every two months until the end of its first year (January 2022) and then four times per year; and meeting notes will be taken and shared with members within a week of meetings.

The quorum for meetings is eight; with at least four appointed members present.


All Members are expected to adhere to the principles of confidentiality. This means that nothing said in the group is repeated outside of it, unless permission is given or the original intention was for the information to be shared more widely but unattributed.

Review of Terms of Reference

The EDI Group will review its performance, membership and terms of reference at least annually.

Any resulting changes to the terms of reference will be presented for approval to the Assembly Trustees.

Appendix 1: Definitions

Equality and equity

Our Theological understanding: Equality from a biblical perspective means recognising that all humans are created alike in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28) All humans have equal dignity in the eyes of God (Psalm 8). All humans deserve respect, and all humans are equally loved by God (John 3:16)) Christians are called to love their neighbour as themselves (Mark 12:31). In Jesus we are one and the divisions of this world are broken down (Galatians 3:28). We are called to a form of discipleship marked by justice, fairness, acceptance and love (Amos 5:24; Psalm 89:14; Luke 4:18-19; John 15:12).

The Equality and Human Rights Commission defines equality in a way that incorporates principles of equity:

"Equality is about ensuring that every individual has an equal opportunity to make the most of their lives and talents.

It is also the belief that no one should have poorer life chances because of the way they were born, where they come from, what they believe, or whether they have a disability.

Equality recognises that historically certain groups of people with protected characteristics such as race, disability, sex and sexual orientation have experienced discrimination." (Equality and Human Rights Commission definition)

Equity focuses on what is needed to support people with different needs and circumstances to achieve equality of outcomes as well as of opportunity.

Protected Characteristic

The Equality Act 2010 protects against discrimination, harassment and victimisation on the grounds of:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

The Fairer Scotland Duty 2018 establishes a duty for particular public bodies in Scotland to actively consider how they can reduce inequalities of outcome caused by socioeconomic disadvantage. Whilst socio-economic duty is not defined as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act, and the Fairer Scotland Duty does not apply to the Church of Scotland, we recognise addressing poverty as a key intersection of wider EDI work.


A fundamental feature of the body of Christ is unity-in-diversity (1 Corinthians 12) With regard to the work of EDI, diversity simply means a range of difference. In the context of diversity and inclusion, diversity means that the makeup of an organisation is diverse up and down the line, and the value of those differences is appreciated.


"A sense of belonging: feeling respected, valued for who you are; feeling a level of supportive energy and commitment from others so that you can do your best" (Miller and Katz (2002). We might describe this in terms of "homefulness". The theme of "homefulness" stresses both being with and belonging with God and being with and belonging with the neighbour in community. (Walter Brueggemann, The Practice of Homefulness.)

The principle of inclusion and belonging (inclusion being that which the law insists upon; belonging being a willingness to love our neighbour. Both are required), implies actively inviting people into your environment, and consciously ensuring that your environment doesn't exclude people because of their race, gender, disability, age, faith, gender identity, sexual orientation, caring responsibility (or another characteristic). (Hallmark of Inclusion Definitions)

Inclusive environments are:

  • Safe
  • Accessible
  • Caring and supportive
  • Ones which value diversity
  • Faithful


Accessibility is in the experience of the beholder, which is why it is important to listen to and understand a range of perspectives. Examples of how people with various access needs may experience accessible environments would include:

  • Wheelchair and scooter users can easily access buildings and facilities
  • The needs of people with limited mobility and dexterity issues are considered (e.g. distances to walk, length of standing time, seating arrangements)
  • D/deaf people or those with hearing impairments can participate without undue discomfort (e.g. acoustics considered, hearing loops in place and working, captions on videos, stenographer / BSL interpreters provided where needed)
  • People with learning disabilities or communication issues have accessible, clear information and ways of participating
  • People feel that their needs are acknowledged, and where possible, met.