Published online by Cambridge University Press: 24 February 2011
This paper focuses on the implications of adopting social audit approaches in order to implement equality policies in Scotland, exploring the tension between surface compliance and deep institutional engagement. Drawing on data from an evaluation of pubic sector bodies’ disability equality schemes, the paper provides examples of different levels of engagement, ranging from surface compliance (some education authorities) to institutional permeation of an equalities ethos (the Scottish Arts Council). The paper concludes by considering the future potential of single equality schemes to promote equality across Scottish society. It is argued that unless there is stronger support and challenge from Scottish government, there is a danger that equality schemes may become paper exercises rather than opportunities for institutional reflection and planning. At the same time, it would be a mistake to dismiss equality planning as merely an exercise in managerialism, since measuring the extent of inequality over time is an essential first step in the long process of achieving institutional change.