Equality Impact Assessment

Equality Impact Assessment

Guidance

This page provides guidance and advice on what Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) is and how to conduct EIA. The term ‘policy’, used throughout this document, covers the range of activities and decisions for which the University is responsible for, including but not limited to: processes, procedures, projects and initiatives.

Legal Context

Under the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) the University has a legal obligation to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people who share protected characteristic(s) and those who do not. In practice it means a consideration on how the institutional policies or decisions may affect people who are protected under the Equality Act 2010.

What is equality impact assessment?

An equality impact assessment (EIA) is a tool that helps the University ensure that its decisions, policies, procedures and practices (strategic and operational) are inclusive and do not disadvantage any individuals or groups protected under the Equality Act 2010. An EIA is an evidence-based tool to facilitate and evidence compliance with the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) and helps support good decision making through systematic assessment of impact (likely or actual) of University activities on people relating to the nine protected characteristics (age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage & civil partnership, pregnancy & maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation) and caring responsibilities.
 

Benefits of EIA

  • Ensure that any decisions made or policies developed are transparent, fair and do not negatively affect particular groups,
  • Decisions are evidence-based through a clear and structured way of collecting and assessing information
  • Any adverse impact can be identified early and mitigating actions implemented,
  • EIAs increase understanding of equality, diversity and inclusion,
  • Create a more positive working environment and improve organisational ethics and values,
  • Provide a platform for partnership working and engagement.

Our Equality Impact Assessment process

The University of Lincoln EIA process involves five stages:

1. Identify aims and objectives of the policy and establish relevance to equality

This should include information on what is being proposed, the aims and objectives of the new policy, and how it will be achieved. Clearly define the scope of the policy, as well as that out of scope, which will help to establish relevance to equality and potential impact on some groups.

If it is concluded that there is no relevance to equality and diversity, you do not need to continue with the EIA. You will, however, need to monitor and review the policy regularly.

2. Collate evidence

The EIA process adopts an evidence-based approach. The way the evidence is obtained, however, will vary, and it is important to apply a method that is appropriate and proportionate. The examples of evidence may include: data (qualitative and quantitative) already available or produced for the purpose of the EIA exercise; research and publications; consultations with relevant groups; and anecdotal evidence.

3. Assess potential impact (negative and positive)

This involves consideration of any implications (impacts) for a protected characteristic group as a result of the policy – both positive and negative.

It is best to consider the stakeholders you have identified by equality groups (age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity).  Having identified an impact you must decide whether this can be justified and explain what evidence you have to back this up.

Where a positive impact is identified, you should continue to implement, communicate and promote the policy.

Where a negative impact is identified, you need to consider mitigating actions to eliminate, or reduce, the impact on specific group(s). Consultation with relevant stakeholders would be recommended in order to best address the potential negative effects of the policy.

Once the EIA is completed, and depending on the impact identified, there are three available options:

  1. No barriers or impact identified, therefore activity will proceed as originally designed;
  2. If any bias towards one or more groups is identified, you may decide to stop the policy or adapt or change the policy in a way which will eliminate or minimise the risks of disadvantage;
  3. In some cases, where negative impact has been identified, and there appear not to be other proportionate ways to achieve the aim of the policy or practice, you may decide to proceed with caution, and provide justification for this decision.

4. Publicise the EIA and implement policy

Once completed, results of the EIA should be publicised. It is good practice to notify those who have participated in the EIA process of the assessment outcomes, and how their involvement has contributed to the policy.

5. Monitor and evaluate

Regular review of the policy will ensure that it is up-to-date and meets the requirements of current equality legislation. A timescale should be defined by the policy owner and recorded in the EIA form.

We are currently in the process of setting up an area for completed EIAs where they will be accessible to all staff.

EIAs should be reviewed at the same time the policy or process it relates to is reviewed OR every four years- whichever occurs soonest. The document or policy owner is responsible for making sure that EIAs are up to date and reviewed as required.

The EIA should be carried out when a new policy or project is planned or developed, or when an existing one is changed or reviewed. It is important to remember that EIA is an activity that should be part of the process not an exercise that can be carried out once the decision is made or policy developed. EIAs need to be proportionate- some policies or projects will have a higher risk or priority than others.

Depending on the nature of the policy, the responsibility of who completes the assessment, who is consulted and who signs it off will vary. Normally, it will be the policy owner and/or decision making individual. The person conducting an EIA must have a detailed understanding of the policy and policy area Further advice on EIAs is available from the EDI team who can offer support and guidance at every stage of the EIA process.

An EIA does not have to follow a specified process, and there are different approaches that organisations adopt.  However, at Lincoln the University developed guidance and template that should be used in the EIA process. The EIA template is available in the documents section below.