How should the information be analysed?

You should analyse the information you gather on a regular basis, perhaps annually.

You should look not only at the number of people falling into each of the equalities groups, but also at multiple equalities groups.  For example, you could assess how many young lesbian or bisexual women are using your service, or older men from minority ethnic communities. 

This will help to identify different experiences and barriers between and within groups.  And it recognises people as individuals – no-one fits neatly into just one group.  Many people may be experiencing multiple discrimination, and everyone will fall into more than one equalities group.

You should then compare information on service use with information on the composition of the wider community, or the community that your organisation is trying to target.

For example…
The 2001 Census identified that approximately 5.5 per cent of the population in Glasgow is from a minority ethnic community.  But you find that only 2 per cent of your service users are from minority ethnic communities, and this reduces to just 1 per cent for young people aged under 25.  Clearly, you would need to find out more about why this is the case.  And take positive action if necessary.

When you are analysing the information, you may want to consider:

  • Is there a large non-response rate to that question? – Could this be skewing the results?  Make sure you don’t jump to conclusions about the characteristics of people who don’t complete questions on the monitoring form.  You might need to gather some more qualitative evidence, through speaking to people, to find out more about the situation.
  • Is our service targeted at a particular equalities group or community? –In this case, you would probably want to do more work on checking that people who fall into other equalities groups – for example minority ethnic communities – are proportionately represented. 
  • What information can I compare my findings with? – Although information sources like the Census can be useful, it can be difficult to get baseline information about the profile of local communities.  You might need to speak to other local organisations to gather information from them, or do some more work on profiling communities.  Over time you will be able to compare your monitoring information with city wide patterns, and other service providers – as the joint equalities monitoring system develops.