Designing Equality Impact Assessments for Community Media

An Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process designed to ensure that a policy, project, or scheme does not unlawfully discriminate against any people based on what are known as protected characteristics. The EIA process aims to identify and mitigate or prevent discrimination against people who are recognised as being associated with one or more of the protected categories. The UK Equality Act 2010 defines nine protected characteristics, including race, religion or belief, disability, sex, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, age, marriage or civil partnership, and pregnancy and maternity.

The Equality Act places a duty on public sector organisations to act in accordance with the provision in the act. EIAs are therefore a means of ensuring that the public sector equality duty is met. The Public sector equality duty came in to force in April 2011, meaning that public authorities, like the Ministry of Justice for example, are now required as they go about carrying out their functions, to have due regard of the need to achieve the objectives set out under s149 of the Equality Act 2010, which include:

  1. Eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under the Equality Act 2010;
  2. Advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it;
  3. Foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.

To ensure transparency, and to assist in the performance of this duty, the Equality Act 2010 also require public authorities to publish:

  • Equality objectives, at least every four years (from 6th April 2012)
  • Information to demonstrate their compliance with the public sector equality duty (from 31st January 2012)

Carrying out an EIA involves assessing the likely (or actual) effects of policies on people in respect of protected equality characteristics. The process usually includes filling out an equality impact assessment template, which is unique to an organisation. Employees are required to fill out the form by considering the impact on different groups of people, with key categories to consider listed. The purpose of an EIA is to pre-empt any issues, anticipate what the impact of the policy is on different groups of staff, clients, service users, or prospective, clients and service users. The aim is to mitigate any negatives, and maximise any positives.

EIAs are not just about avoiding legal cases. They can be a useful method to identify opportunities as well. If we can identify the barriers, it can help organisations and public bodies to re-evaluate whether the solution they are proposing is the right one at all, or if they need to think differently to come up with something better. It is considered a best-practice approach to decision-making. However, the process itself can be a barrier if only one person is responsible for completing the form. The idea is to reflect. Equality impact assessments are a legal requirement, but they are also done to make organisations the very best they can be.

The steps involved in conducting an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) can vary depending on the organisation, but there are some common steps that can be followed. Here are the steps involved in conducting an EIA based on the search results:

  • Understand the aims of the policy, and how these relate to equality.
  • Collect equality evidence.
  • Assess the impact of the policy on different groups of staff, clients and service users, and prospective staff, clients and service users.
  • Fill out an equality impact assessment template.
  • Consider the impact on different groups of people, with key categories to consider listed.
  • Identify any potential negative impacts and ways to mitigate them.
  • Identify any potential positive impacts and ways to maximise them.
  • Consider how different characteristics intersect, for example, how gender and ethnicity intersect.
  • Involve a team in completing the EIA.
  • Develop an equality impact mindset.
  • Conduct the EIA as early as possible to enable any identified issues to be mitigated or avoided altogether.
  • Use the EIA to place equality, diversity, cohesion, and integration at the heart of everything the organisation does.

It is important to note that the steps involved in conducting an EIA can vary depending on the organisation and the policy being assessed. However, following these steps can help ensure that the EIA is comprehensive and effective in identifying any potential negative impacts and maximising any potential positive impacts.

Here are some examples of policies that require an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA):

  1. Significant changes to policies and practices in public authorities.
  2. Policies that relate to equality and have the potential to impact different groups of people.
  3. Policies that relate to race and have the potential to impact different groups of people.
  4. Policies that relate to the Public Sector Equality Duty.
  5. Policies that introduce statutory guidance and supporting regulations on area plans required under the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014.

The common thread, moreover, is that policies that have the potential to impact different groups of people and relate to equality should be assessed using an EIA. The difference between an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) and a Diversity Impact Assessment (DIA) is something that needs to made clear, but we can start by identifying some key principles:

Scope: An EIA focuses on assessing the impact of policies, practices, services, and functions on different groups of staff, clients and service users, as well as prospective staff, clients and service users, with the aim of ensuring equality and preventing discrimination. It is specifically developed in response to legislation, such as the Equality Act 2010. On the other hand, the term “Diversity Impact Assessment” is not explicitly specified and clear, but it can be inferred that it may have a broader scope, encompassing the assessment of policies and practices in relation to diversity, which includes factors beyond the protected characteristics defined by equality legislation, such as age, socio-economic background, and cultural background.

Focus: An EIA primarily focuses on assessing the impact of policies on different groups of people based on protected characteristics, such as race, gender, disability, and sexual orientation. It aims to identify any potential negative impacts and ways to mitigate them, as well as maximise any positive impacts. On the other hand, a Diversity Impact Assessment, if it exists as a separate concept, may have a broader focus on assessing the impact of policies on a wider range of diversity factors, including those beyond the protected characteristics.

Legal Requirement: An EIA is a legal requirement for public authorities under equality legislation. It is necessary to demonstrate “due regard” to equality in all that they do. There is, however, no requirement to undertake a Diversity Impact Assessment as a legal obligation, though of course, the gathering of information about the make-up of an organisation, or a group of clients, is going to be essential for providing evidence for decision making. The Ofcom Workforce Diversity survey is a good example of this.

It is important to note that the specific differences between an EIA and a Diversity Impact Assessment may vary depending on the context and the organisation. The terms used and the approach taken can differ, but the underlying goal is to assess the impact of policies and practices to ensure fairness, equality, and inclusivity.  We can specify some initial differences in the methodology used in Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs) and Diversity Impact Assessments (DIAs):

Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) Methodology:

  • Focuses on assessing the impact of policies, practices, services, and functions on different groups of staff, clients and service users, and prospective staff clients and service users, based on protected characteristics.
  • Aims to identify any potential negative impacts and ways to mitigate them, as well as maximise any positive impacts.
  • Developed in response to legislation, such as the Equality Act 2010.
  • Involves filling out an EIA template, which prompts a systematic assessment of the impact of policies on different people through the analysis.
  • Requires understanding the aims of the policy and how they relate to equality.
  • Involves collecting equality evidence and assessing the impact of the policy on different groups of people.
  • Considers how different characteristics intersect, for example, how gender and ethnicity intersect.
  • Ideally conducted as early as possible to enable any identified issues to be mitigated or avoided altogether.
  • Is a legal requirement for public authorities under equality legislation.

Diversity Impact Assessment (DIA) Methodology (Inferred):

  • May have a broader focus on assessing the impact of policies and practices on a wider range of diversity factors, including those beyond the protected characteristics.
  • May involve a broader scope, encompassing the assessment of policies and practices in relation to diversity.
  • May not be explicitly mentioned in legislation.

Community media groups can use and develop an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) to ensure that their policies, practices, and decisions are informed and reasonable, and that they meet the needs of their staff and the community they serve. Here are some steps that community media groups can take to use and develop an EIA:

  1. Understand the aims of the policy, and how these relate to equality.
  2. Collect equality evidence.
  3. Assess the impact of the policy on different groups of staff, volunteers, and the community they serve.
  4. Fill out an equality impact assessment template.
  5. Consider the impact on different groups of people, with key categories to consider listed.
  6. Identify any potential negative impacts and ways to mitigate them.
  7. Identify any potential positive impacts and ways to maximise them.
  8. Consider how different characteristics intersect, for example, how race and gender intersect.
  9. Involve a team in completing the EIA.
  10. Develop an equality impact mindset.
  11. Conduct the EIA as early as possible to enable any identified issues to be mitigated or avoided altogether.
  12. Use the EIA to place equality, diversity, cohesion, and integration at the heart of everything the community media group does.

It is important to note that the specific steps involved in conducting an EIA may vary depending on the organisation and the policy being assessed. However, following these steps can help ensure that the EIA is comprehensive and effective in identifying any potential negative impacts and maximising any potential positive impacts. Community media groups can also seek expert guidance on EIAs to develop an EIA mindset and complete high-quality forms.

  Some challenges that community media groups may face when conducting an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA):

  • Language Barriers: Ensuring that materials carry signs offering translation of documents can be a challenge when conducting an EIA.
  • Reaching Hard-to-Reach Groups: Taking face-to-face consultations to hard-to-reach groups can be a challenge when conducting an EIA.
  • Overwhelming Process: The process of completing an EIA can be overwhelming, especially for someone who does not have lived experience in the categories listed.
  • Lack of Expertise: Community media groups may not have the expertise or resources to conduct an EIA effectively.
  • Limited Scope: The scope of an EIA may not cover all the diversity factors that are relevant to the community media group.
  • Time-Consuming: Conducting an EIA can be time-consuming, especially if it involves collecting data and consulting with different groups of people.

It is important to note that the challenges that community media groups may face when conducting an EIA can vary depending on the organisation and the context. However, being aware of these challenges can help community media groups plan and prepare for them to conduct an effective EIA. Community media groups can also seek expert guidance on EIAs to develop an EIA mindset and complete high-quality forms.

Community media groups can ensure that their Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) process is culturally sensitive and inclusive of diverse groups by following these steps:

  • Ensure that materials carry signs offering translation of documents. This will help to ensure that people who speak different languages can access and understand the EIA materials.
  • Take face-to-face consultations to hard-to-reach groups. This will help to ensure that people who may not have access to online resources or who may not be able to attend meetings during regular business hours can still provide input into the EIA process.
  • Consider the impact of policies on different groups of people based on their protected characteristics, such as race, gender, disability, and sexual orientation. This will help to ensure that the EIA process is inclusive of diverse groups and that the impact of policies on different groups is fully considered.
  • Consider how different characteristics intersect, for example, how race and gender intersect. This will help to ensure that the EIA process is culturally sensitive and that the impact of policies on people with intersecting characteristics is fully considered.
  • Involve a team in completing the EIA. This will help to ensure that the EIA process is inclusive of diverse perspectives and that the impact of policies on different groups is fully considered.
  • Develop an equality impact mindset. This will help to ensure that the EIA process is culturally sensitive and that the impact of policies on different groups is fully considered.
  • Conduct the EIA as early as possible to enable any identified issues to be mitigated or avoided altogether. This will help to ensure that the EIA process is inclusive of diverse perspectives and that the impact of policies on different groups is fully considered.

It is important to note that the specific steps involved in ensuring that the EIA process is culturally sensitive and inclusive of diverse groups may vary depending on the organisation and the context. However, following these steps can help community media groups ensure that their EIA process is comprehensive and effective in identifying any potential negative impacts and maximising any potential positive impacts.

When an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) is completed, it is important to report and discuss the findings to ensure that the impact of policies on different groups of people is fully considered. Here are some ways an EIA might be reported and discussed based on the search results:

  • Discussion and Debate: Discussion and debate can enhance understanding of equality impact and different experiences, resulting in a more considered, robust assessment.
  • Policy and Guidance: The University of Glasgow provides policy and guidance on conducting EIAs, which includes reporting and discussing the findings.
  • Eight-Step Guide: The Equality and Human Rights Commission provides an eight-step guide to assessing impact and the equality duty, which includes reporting and discussing the findings.
  • Guidelines: The London School of Economics provides guidelines on how to undertake an EIA, which includes reporting and discussing the findings.
  • Step-by-Step Guide: Brunel University provides a step-by-step guide to conducting EIAs, which includes reporting and discussing the findings.
  • Process: The University of Exeter has an EIA process that helps to consider the effects of a policy, process, or decision on anyone who may be affected, which includes reporting and discussing the findings.

When reporting and discussing the findings of an EIA, it is important to consider the impact of policies on different groups of people based on their protected characteristics, such as race, gender, disability, gender reassignment and sexual orientation. It is also important to consider how different characteristics intersect, for example, how race and gender intersect. Taking a team approach to completing the EIA can also be good practice.

Overall, community media groups and projects may find a more detailed awareness of the Equality Act to be beneficial when applying for funding from public bodies, or developing contracted service work for the communication of public information. Understanding how media and information affect different groups of people in different ways, is one of the primary reasons for developing community media projects as an independent, socially and culturally relevant practice. One size doesn’t fit all, and different strategies and approaches have to be contemplated and developed by communications managers that suit the needs of the communities and groups of people that are being served.

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