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Frequently Asked Questions

All members of staff can view the Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs) conducted by colleagues at the University, using the online EIA Portal. You can also use the portal to carry out your own EIA, and may find this guide 'How to Complete at EIA' of value in the process.

The following are a list of frequently asked questions in relation to EIAs.

  1. Why has the relevance been changed to 'central' on my EIA policy spreadsheet?
  2. Our department follows a central policy, do we still need to assess this policy ourselves?
  3. Do we need to assess all our policies?
  4. What if we do not have enough data or evidence to assess our policy?
  5. What are the risks of ignoring adverse impact, if it can be justified?
  6. Is there a difference between screening policies and assessing impact?
  7. What must an EIA demonstrate?
  8. Do we need to have an EIA Champion for each department?
  9. Glossary of Terms.

If you have any additional queries or anything that you feel should be added to the list of questions, contact us and let us know.

 

1. Why has the relevance been changed to 'central' on my EIA policy spreadsheet?

In some instances you may find that there have been slight amendments to your submission, either policies added that had been omitted or a variation on the rating of equality relevance. These alterations were made on the basis of having seen all the submissions and trying to assist in reducing the workload across departments where possible.

In some cases, you may find that some of your policies’ relevance have been changed to ‘central’, which means that review of the policy will be done centrally, and not within each department. This has been amended following a review of the information received from departments and in an attempt to minimise workload within departments.

For example, staff recruitment will be picked up centrally, on the basis that all departments follow Personnel guidelines. Even if there are slight departmental differences, the fundamentals remain the same, so at this stage, departments will not need to review their individual practices.

 

2. Our department follows a central policy, do we still need to assess this policy ourselves?

If your department simply follows a central policy governed by another area (i.e. Academic Office, Personnel, ITS, etc.) then you will not need to assess the policy separately. Instead, you should make a note why you have not assessed this policy for future reference, i.e. central guidelines followed.

However, departments should still consider these policies, to make sure that they do follow central guidelines. Areas such as student admissions, for example, should be thought about on a departmental level, as to whether the department does anything that is different to central practices. For example, some areas interview all potential students, which is not something that the central procedures stipulate must happen, so we are only asking departments to think about what they do on a departmental level which would not be covered elsewhere, and decide whether this should be assessed for its impact on equality areas.

 

3. Do we need to assess all our policies?

No, only policies that are relevant to meeting responsibilities under the Public Sector Equality Duty have to be assessed.

However, you will need to screen all policies to determine how relevant they are to eliminating unlawful discrimination, promoting equality of opportunity, and promoting good relations between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and people who do not share it.

 

4. What if we do not have enough data or evidence to assess a policy?

This should not prevent you from making a preliminary judgment about the impact a policy is likely to have upon eliminating unlawful discrimination, promoting equality of opportunity, and promoting good relations between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and people who do not share it. Nor should it prevent you from considering a proportionate response to the equality considerations in the policy.

You might find that quantitative data gathered from statistics suggests a potential differential impact against certain groups. Only by consulting appropriately, either formally or informally, with those groups, will you more clearly identify differential impact. Appropriate consultation, with legitimate, relevant and representative groups, will widen your perspectives by providing qualitative data about differential impact, and provide pointers to reduce any unrecognized adverse impact.

 

5. What are the risks of ignoring adverse impact, if it can be justified?

This depends on how the adverse impact of a policy might be justified. For example, a legislative proposal to ban headwear in educational institutions would lead to differential and adverse impact upon anyone whose religion required them to cover their head. The proposal must take account of the potential risk of damaging relations between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and people who do not share it.

 

6. Is there a difference between screening policies and assessing impact?

Yes, there is a difference.

Policies should be screened according to their relevance to uphold the Public Sector Equality Duty before there is assessment of impact.

EIAs involve consideration of how policies affect the occurrence of unlawful discrimination, the promotion of equality of opportunity, and the promotion of good relations between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and people who do not share it. The process provides opportunity to review or rewrite policies if they are likely to put a particular group (or groups) at a disadvantage, or to consider additional ‘measures to mitigate’ the policy’s adverse effects.

Every policy should be screened, and relevant policies assessed, according to the most current and appropriate data.

 

7. What must an EIA demonstrate?

Assessment

Questions to be addressed during the assessment phase are:

  • Will the policy have a different impact on any group who share a protected characteristic?
  • Will it contribute to good relations between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and people who do not share it?

Assessment might include:

  • Relevant past data.
  • Relevant research findings.
  • Population data, including census findings.
  • Comparisons with similar policies in other organisations.
  • Survey results.
  • Data from monitoring processes e.g. service delivery.
  • One-off data gathering exercises.
  • Specially commissioned research.

The findings should say whether and how the policy should be revised in the light of the assessment.

 

Consultation

If a robust assessment process demonstrates there is no adverse impact on any group who share a protected characteristic, and that it will not harm equality of opportunity for people with a protected characteristic, there is no need to enter into consultation.

Where the assessment process reveals a differential or potential differential impact, the results would form the basis for consultation and the method of consultation.

Aims

The aims and objectives of consultation should be to ensure:

  • People’s views are used to shape the decision making process.
  • The exercise represents the views of those who are likely to be affected by the policy.
  • The consultation method is suitable for both the topic and the group(s) involved.
  • The exercise is in proportion to the effect that the policy is likely to have.
  • The consultation’s aims are clearly explained.
  • The consultation exercise is properly time-tabled.
  • The consultation methods are monitored (and where necessary, amended).
  • The consultation’s findings are published.

Who to Consult

In addition to relevant stakeholders, anyone in the area who has an established interest in promoting equality could be invited into the consultation process. This may include individuals, community groups, associations, and corporate teams, but it is essential that those consulted are legitimate, relevant, and representative.

Those consulted should also include emergent communities (such as refugees and asylum-seekers) and long-standing groups with a history of poor relations with public authorities, such as:

  • Travellers.
  • Women.
  • Young people.
  • BAME led businesses.
  • Relatively isolated families or individuals.
  • People who live in one area and work in another, so have needs in both.

Methods

Examples of methods of consultation include:

  • Consultation meetings.
  • Focus groups.
  • Reference groups
  • Citizens’ juries.
  • Public scrutiny.
  • Surveys.

Recommendations

Recommendations for consultation include:

  • Hold neighbourhood-based meetings, because this is the level at which key concerns are apparent.
  • Keep meetings informal, as confidence and comfort can be depleted by formality.
  • Hold separate meetings for marginalised groups, including: BAME people, new comer communities, disabled people, travellers, young people, women, etc.
  • Invite local BAME associations to assist with the consultation process, including organising meetings.
  • Use community venues and check dates, times, and venues do not clash with religious customs or festivals.
  • Use a variety of consultation models (focus groups, reference groups, etc.) to explore particular issues in greater detail with selected individuals.
  • Use written questionnaires or interview surveys to reach a wider audience, or particular cross-section of the community.
  • Translate all relevant consultation materials into the common community languages, and arrange for interpreters at meetings.
  • Establish lay advisory groups (community panels, etc.) for regular discussion and consultation, choosing members for their skills and experience.

If the assessment or consultation shows that the proposed policy is likely to have an adverse impact on groups with a protected characteristic or harm equality, the Public Sector Equality Duty will not be met. In this case, the following questions need to be addressed:

  • Can another way be found to meet the objectives of the policy?
  • Can the policy be justified by its overall aims? If so, can the policy be adapted to mitigate the negative impacts?
  • Can any disadvantage be compensated?
  • If protected characteristic groups have distinct needs, can these be met? Either within the proposed policy or by separate means.
  • Is the policy harming good relations between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and people who do not share it?

Following consultation, significant changes to proposed policies should be resubmitted to the consultation process.

 

Monitoring

For policies affecting the Public Sector Equality Duty, a monitoring system must complement the policy. In cases where the policy would result in service delivery, a system for recording equality data of service users must be implemented.

Monitoring systems should show what difference reviewing a policy has had (current policy) or how the policy effects groups who share a protected characteristic.

Different methods of monitoring may be used according to the particular policy and detailed in the EIA.

 

8. Do we need to have an EIA Champion for each department?

We are hoping to get a number of EIA Champions across the University so that departments have a local contact they can liaise with.

It is not necessary to have an EIA Champion for each individual department, particularly if it is a small department. It may be that smaller departments who are located near each other want to nominate one person within their local area to act as EIA Champion across a number of departments.

 

Glossary of Terms

Adverse impact is an indication that a particular group has been affected differently by a policy, that the effect is less favourable (i.e. negative) and potentially unlawful.

Differential impact suggests that a particular group has been affected differently by a policy (in either a positive, neutral or negative way).

Potential differential impact can occur when quantitative data does not match qualitative data. When potential differential impact is uncovered, you should generate and evaluate data by seeking expert opinions and consulting with communities.

Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) refers to duties created by the Equality Act 2010 which public bodies, including the University, must comply with. Find more information about the PSED on the Equality Act webpage.

Relevance refers to the implications of a policy in terms of the General Duties. A policy for example, is relevant to race equality, if it has, or could have, implications for promoting race equality.