The Herald & GenAnalytics Diversity Dialogues are the newest forum for promoting effective discussion around making society fairer for everyone. The first in the series will take place in Edinburgh on Thursday, March 28 and it is being held in association with Crown Estate Scotland, the organisation that manages land, property and assets on behalf of the people of Scotland.

Esther Black, Director of Corporate Operations, Crown Estate Scotland, says the decision to support the event grew out of issues that her organisation was facing.

She says: “We wanted to ensure that our 2025-30 plan for how we manage the Scottish Crown Estate reflects different perspectives and needs. However, when we tried to find data and information to help us do that, we drew a bit of a blank so we thought bringing people together in debate and discussion was the best way forward. We want to learn from others and share ideas about how to build DEI into longer-term strategies as that’s when changes can really make a lasting difference.”

This proactive approach has been central to Crown Estate Scotland since it was set up as a public corporation in 2017 and since then the organisation has made good progress in the fundamentals of gathering workforce data, building inclusivity into its culture, engaging with different groups, and ensuring it communicates in an accessible way.

However Esther believes that much remains to be done and that the most effective way to achieve its goals is by ensuring that equality is embedded into the organisation’s new corporate plan.

“The plan will set out how we will manage land, buildings, seabed, coastline and other property in a way that generates revenue for the Scottish Government and promotes sustainable development – that includes tackling existing inequalities, building a fairer economy and strengthening communities.

“We’ll include commitments to support a just transition away from unsustainable economic activities and to help communities become more resilient. We’ll also embed Fair Work and diversity, equality and inclusion in how we recruit, retain and develop our team.”

She has high expectations that the Edinburgh Diversity Dialogue will provide direction and inspiration that will allow Crown Estate Scotland to develop the sorts of structures and initiatives that will allow it to fulfil its ambitions.

“I know that there will be lots of great expertise in the room, including Louisa McDonnell from Business in the Community and I’m looking forward to sharing successes and challenges, and being inspired about how to keep making progress.”

And progress is essential, she says, because failing to address inequalities in access to services and opportunities will result in a continued waste of human potential, as well as damaging the economy, negatively impacting health and wellbeing and undermining social cohesion.

“Some progress has been made but it’s a case of  ‘two steps forward, one step back.’ Ultimately there are still groups within society who remain shut out of decision-making, not really seen or heard. Even in areas such as gender equality where there is a lot more awareness than there used to be, recent reports evidence a growing divergence among younger men and women around the world in regard to ideology and I fear that may lead to setbacks.”

The Diversity Dialogues are an opportunity, she believes, to listen to groups who have found themselves excluded and to learn from others about how to resolve key issues.

“We’re all on a journey, I don’t think any organisation has ‘cracked it’ on DE&I, but ultimately, we need to listen to and serve communities across Scotland and I suspect that will involve us being creative, flexible and adapting our approach as we go.”

Tickets are still available for the event taking place at Dovecot Studios, Infirmary Street Edinburgh on Thursday, March 28 from 9:30am. You can find out more and book your place at