How can we develop our equalities monitoring in the future?

The equalities monitoring framework outlined here and in Glasgow’s Learning About . . . Equality! is relatively simple.  This is largely because of feedback from CLD providers in Glasgow.  People stressed that any joint system has to be basic, simple and easy to use. 

But, depending on the experience and direction of your organisation, you may want to expand the monitoring you do in the field of equalities.  It can be useful to gather more detailed information, in certain circumstances.
To fully identify gender inequality, it can be useful to explore issues around caring and working responsibilities.

You should think about whether to monitor for part-time working and caring responsibilities (including child care, elder care or care for a family member).  Both groups are predominantly women at a national level."

Former Equal Opportunities Commission

As we suggest in our equalities monitoring form, it can also be helpful to monitor whether service users are currently or previously transgender.  This is a very sensitive issue, and equality organisations have different opinions on whether this kind of monitoring should be undertaken and when.

The former Equal Opportunities Commission suggested that this monitoring should take place for service users.  But others disagree.  Press for Change – a campaigning organisation – states that the trans status of service users should not be monitored until the law changes to protect against discrimination.  It also stresses that monitoring should not be undertaken with small populations, as this can make people identifiable.  Particular care must be taken with reporting and publishing information – as there is a danger of contravening the Gender Recognition Act if people are identified.

Example: expanding equalities monitoring categories
Glasgow University currently monitors staff and students consistently in terms of gender, ethnic origin and disability.  Diversity Working Groups covering disability, ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation and faith have been established to manage the university’s approach to equality.  These groups receive regular reports on monitoring information, and report to the Equality and Diversity Committee.  These reports include analysis of key gaps and barriers, and recommendations for future action.

The university is beginning to expand the equalities monitoring information gathered.  This is happening gradually.  For example, a recent staff attitude survey included a question on sexual orientation and transgender status.  This was also included in a survey consulting on the Gender Equality Duty.  As the response to this question was positive, the university is considering including this question as standard in the future

There are a number of areas where you could expand the information you gather on disability.  Firstly, in addition to establishing whether someone would define themselves as disabled, you may wish to know if they feel they are disabled as defined by law.  The former Disability Rights Commission suggests that one potential monitoring question could be:

The Disability Discrimination Act considers a person disabled if:

  • you have a longstanding physical or mental condition or disability that has lasted or is likely to last at least 12 months; and
  • this condition or disability has a substantial adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

Do you consider yourself to be disabled as set out under the Disability Discrimination Act? Yes/No

You may also wish to gather information on the type of impairment that individuals have, to assess any similarities or differences in barriers or inequality.  The Disability Rights Commission suggests using simple (although fairly crude) categories.  If you wish, more categories could be added to reflect the particular concerns of your own organisation.  For example, it may be particularly important to your organisation to establish the type of learning difficulty experienced. 

Please state the type of impairment which applies to you.  If more than one applies, please tick as many as apply to you.  If none apply, please mark other and specify the type of impairment.

  • Physical impairment - such as difficulty using your arms or mobility issues which mean using a wheelchair or crutches.
  • Sensory impairment - such as being blind/ having a serious visual impairment/ being deaf/ having a serious hearing impairment.
  • Mental health condition - such as depression or schizophrenia.
  • Learning disability/ difficulty (such as Down’s syndrome or dyslexia) or cognitive impairment (such as autistic spectrum disorder).
  • Long standing illness or health condition - such as cancer, HIV, diabetes, chronic heart disease or epilepsy.
  • Other (please specify).

Finally, you may wish to establish the impact of the person’s impairment on their everyday life.  This focuses strongly on the social model of disability – what barriers does the individual experience – rather than focusing on their medical condition.  The suggested barriers can be varied to suit your own organisation.

It can help us to ensure effective involvement of everyone if we can identify anything that is a barrier to your full participation.  What are the biggest barriers for you in doing what you want to do in this organisation?  Tick any that apply:

  • Access to buildings, streets and transport vehicles
  • Written information or communication
  • Verbal or audible information/ communication
  • People’s attitudes to you because of your impairment, medical condition or disability
  • Lack of reasonable adjustments
  • Policies or procedures such as the fire evacuation procedure
  • Other barriers (please specify)

Ethnic origin
The question that we have included in the equalities monitoring form uses the 2001 Census categories for ethnic origin.  The former Commission for Racial Equality strongly advised using these categories.  It means that you can compare the information you gather with the 2001 Census. 

But there is some debate about the best way to phrase questions about ethnic origin.  The Census ethnic origin categories are currently being reviewed and tested, in advance of the 2011 Census.  In addition, a number of communities are now formally recognised by law as ethnic groups – but are not included in the 2001 Census categories.

You may wish to consider whether you should add more detail to the suggested question on ethnic origin.  For example, you might wish to include Jewish, Sikh and Gypsy/ Traveller communities as stated groups on the form.  Or, if your work is particularly targeted at asylum seekers or eastern European communities, you may wish to break down the ethnic origin categories in more detail so that you are able to extract meaningful information. 

If you do add extra categories, it is important to remember that you must be able to collate the information for comparison with the 2001 Census.  So, if you add new categories, these should be sub-categories of the ones we suggest on the form.   

This approach ensures that you are still able to provide more general information in a way which allows comparison with other CLD providers in Glasgow.  It also ensures that you can still compare the information you gather with national information sources, like the 2001 Census. 
Again, the faith categories suggested in this pack are based on the 2001 Census.  We know they’re not perfect, and don’t pick up every faith, belief or religion.  But they do provide a basis for comparison across the city, and nationally.  If you want to add more categories, please add them as sub-categories of the ones we have suggested.

Guidance on monitoring the age of service users states that the age bands you use should be those that make the most sense for your organisation or sector.  The 2001 Census can be broken down into any age categories, so it is always possible to compare to this baseline. 

The age bands we have suggested were set in consultation with CLD organisations in Glasgow.  We felt they made sense for the kind of work CLD organisations are involved in.  But we know they may not suit everyone.  You may want to break these down further, for example if your work is targeted at older people, or young people.  If you do this, again, please make sure that the information can be collated into the broad age categories that we have suggested in this pack.


Example: detailed equal opportunities monitoring pilot

Lothian and Borders Police are the first force in the UK to pilot a self-classification, diversity monitoring programme for staff and service users.  Monitoring systems gather information on:
  • ethnic origin;
  • religion;
  • sexual orientation;
  • transgender status;
  • disability;
  • gender; and
  • age.

All staff are encouraged to complete a self classifying survey.  In addition, service users are asked questions on all seven issues whenever a customer survey is carried out.

Before the introduction of the monitoring system, there was some concern about the wide range of personal information being gathered from staff and service users.  But in reality, the scheme has been very successful.  The monitoring process has allowed Lothian and Borders Police to gain a greater understanding of the diversity of its workforce and services users.  It ensures that the organisation’s Equal Opportunity Policy is transparent, and based on the needs and experiences of staff and service users.  It also allows the force to support staff in an appropriate way.

The monitoring system was developed in close consultation with equalities groups and other key partners – including City of Edinburgh Council and NHS Lothian.  The introduction of new monitoring systems was accompanied by diversity awareness training for all staff.