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An equality impact assessment (EIA) is a process designed to ensure that a particular policy, practice or project does not discriminate against or disadvantage people. 

An Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) will help you analyse the way your organisation operates in order to make sure it does not discriminate against or disadvantage any particular groups or individuals. Integrated, cyclical EIAs are a highly effective means of enabling organisations to benchmark progress in matching their policies’ actual equality outcomes to their goals.

“Equality Impact Assessments go to the heart also of improvement in performance standards and are a very helpful vehicle for identifying and avoiding negative impact, but most importantly also, making sure that opportunities are not missed to promote equality.”
Dianna Yach, Equality and human rights activist

Process stages and fundamentals

Stage 1: Screening

EIA screening is a short exercise that determines whether equality is relevant to the policy and whether a full EIA needs to be completed. Screening ensures that only policies that have an impact on equality undergo a full EIA, thereby avoiding the unnecessary time and cost of assessing non-relevant policies.

Stage 2: Scoping

The EIA scoping stage provides the starting point for the full EIA. At this point, you will consider the relevance of each equality strand (or ‘protected characteristic’) to the policy and plan for later stages. You will also need to consider whether a procurement exercise will be necessary and, once the EIA is completed, ensure that equality and diversity requirements are reflected in the procurement specification and monitored through delivery.

Stage 3: Collecting data

An EIA depends on the effective use of data and evidence in order to form an objective judgement of the impact of a particular policy. You will need to put in place methods to identify and capture appropriate data to ensure that your EIA is robust and well-informed.

Stage 4: Consulting stakeholders

Stakeholders are the people who are likely to be affected by a particular policy. It is vital to involve and consult stakeholders in order to:

  • promote transparency and accountability of decisions and actions
  • build trust and confidence
  • foster a sense of ownership
  • allow decisions to be influenced in a meaningful way by those most affected by them
  • enable you to learn what the issues are directly from the people affected, rather than make assumptions.

Stage 5: Assessing impact

The aim of the impact assessment stage is to:

  • analyse the data and evidence that has been collected so far
  • identify the impacts of the policy, whether positive, neutral or adverse
  • reach a judgement on whether the policy promotes equality and avoids discrimination
  • make a decision on the outcome, i.e. what will happen to the policy.

Stage 6: Action planning, report and sign-off

The Action Plan is a summary of key actions that need to be taken to respond to the findings of the EIA (including the mitigation of any adverse impacts). It should only include the key activities that are likely to have the greatest impact. It is also important to produce an EIA report, which is a concise summary of the results of your EIA work. Once the EIA, the report and Action Plan are complete, it is critical to ensure they are signed off by the relevant Senior Manager.

Stage 7: Publication and review

Publication of the EIA report (i.e. the results) is a vital part of the EIA process. It:

  • provides a public record of the decision-making process
  • promotes openness and accountability
  • encourages further dialogue and debate
  • demonstrates that the authority is actively engaged in tackling discrimination and promoting equality and good relations between different groups.

In the interests of transparency, it is also good practice to publish the Action Plan along with the EIA Report, where appropriate.

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