An Equality Impact Assessment is a detailed and systematic analysis of the potential or actual effects of a policy or practice, provision or criterion to ascertain whether it has a differential impact on identifiable groups of people or equality strands that are central to the equality agenda.
Equality Impact assessment (EIA) is the term given to a review of an institution's policies, procedures, practices/activities, provision, criterion and services to ensure that the institution is not discriminating unlawfully – and that it is making a positive contribution to equality. It is the process of assessing the impact of existing or proposed policies and practices in relation to their consequences for equality.
An Equality Impact Assessment is an anticipatory process that allows teams to predict possible barriers faced by equality groups. A judgement of adverse impact is made if the impact of a policy disadvantages one or more equality target groups. Steps then have to be taken to mitigate this adverse or negative impact. The concepts of proportionality and relevance are essential for carrying out an impact assessment.
If you're carrying out an Equality Impact Assessment, please use the below information in conjunction with the additional guidance and the EIA form.
What is an Equality Impact Assessment?
An equality impact assessment (EIA) is a tool that helps the University make sure our policies, procedures and practices do what they are intended to do and are inclusive for staff, students and visitors.
Carrying out an EIA helps support good decision making and involves systematically assessing the likely (or actual) effects of our 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.
This includes looking for opportunities to promote equality that may have previously been missed or could be better used, as well as negative or adverse impacts that can be removed or mitigated, where possible. If any negative or adverse impacts amount to unlawful discrimination, they must be removed.
When should an EIA be carried out?
An EIA should be carried out where there is a new policy or there are changes suggested to an existing policy. For the purpose of the EIA, any reference to ‘policy’, covers the full range of functions, activities and decisions for which the University is responsible – essentially everything we do. It includes both current policies and those under development.
The EIA process is an evidence based one and is therefore not possible without adequate data. How the evidence is obtained will vary and it will be important to choose a method that is appropriate and proportionate. The key question to ask at this stage of the process is - what data is needed to provide evidence of potential positive or negative/adverse impacts in relation to the different protected characteristics?
Once you gather required data and evidence, including filling any identified gaps, as the next step we suggest you use this information to assess whether the policy has, or is likely to have, a differential impact on any equality groups:
i) Positive impact
The evidence demonstrates that the policy is robust; there is no potential for discrimination or any negative impact. All opportunities to promote equality have been taken.
Examples of a positive impact could be:
- University publications indicating availability in different formats and use of gender inclusive language
- In renovating a reception area, accessible counters are provided
- Height adjustable desks provided in lecture theatres where a refurbishment is considered
- Staff Policies have been created which include due regard to inclusion for diverse groups of staff
ii) Negative equality impact
The evidence identifies potential problems or missed opportunities. This might mean the policy could be potentially discriminatory. Where necessary, changes to the policy should be designed to minimise negative effects and maximise positive impact.
Examples of a negative impact for a protected characteristic group could be:
- Evidence of no ethnic minority staff participating in staff training
- Male or female only interview panels
- New Facilities developed without the consideration for the needs of international students
- Placement policy not covering accessibility needs for disabled students
- Decisions made which disadvantage particular groups of staff
iii) Neutral impact
The evidence identifies that the policy has no negative or positive results for people with protected characteristics. Examples of neutral impact could be:
- Relocation Policy for staff – accessible to everyone who is appointed at the qualifying grade at the University
- Provision of sports facilities – which are open to all students and staff
If a negative impact has been found, it is necessary to consider whether the policy can be changed to reduce or eliminate this impact. It is important to note that if the EIA shows actual or potential unlawful discrimination, you must take steps to stop, remove or change the policy as soon as possible.
Changing the policy:
- Identify changes that will reduce or eliminate the negative impact where it has been identified.
- Consider what evidence would be needed to show that the changes have worked and build these into the revised policy.
- Consultation with the affected equality group (s) may be useful here.
- The changes that you identify should be documented in the action plan.
- Each action should be allocated to a key person who is responsible for its completion.
Monitor & review: Progress against the action plan should be reviewed regularly.
Consultation should take place with appropriate stakeholders as part of the EIA process. The scale of the consultation will vary: the higher the potential for negative impact the more comprehensive the consultation will need to be.
Examples of consultation methods might include:
- Focus groups
- Staff networks
- Targeted emails
- Posters & leaflets
If you need help with completing EIA, visit the original EIA guide page.
Update for 2022
We are changing how Equality Impact Assessments are managed and operated at the University. As soon as the new framework is launched, this page will be updated. If you have any questions in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com. Also, if you need help with completing EIA, visit the original EIA guide page.
USS Changes, 2020 valuation
Equality impact assessment of changes proposed to the USS pension scheme as a result of the 2020 valuation can be found here.