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Strategic Equality Impact Assessment (EIA)

Practical guidance for Scottish colleges and universities on a taking a strategic approach to equality impact assessment/equality analysis and developing genuinely inclusive strategy and policy. Demonstrating equality is at the heart of your strategy and practice. This guidance is the product of a project on conducting EIA at a strategic level and provides a number of tools and resources to support the process.

This guidance, funded by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), was developed by Advance HE in collaboration with Scottish college and university partners.

Equality impact assessment (EIA) is a tool to help colleges and universities assess strategy, decisions, policies and practices for staff and students, actively promote equality and avoid inadvertent discrimination for any protected group.

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Map of Equality Impact Assessment content

Strategic Equality Impact Assessment
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Equality Impact Assessment in Scotland
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Practical guidance for Scottish colleges and universities
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How to use the guidance
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Key information for leaders and other specific staff groups
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A model process for undertaking strategic EIA
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Summary of conclusions and key recommendations
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Practical tools and information
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Quick guidance summary

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EIA of strategy versus EIA of operational plans, policies and practices

EIA is often described as challenging within institutions but is generally better understood at a policy or practice level where the emphasis may be clearer and it is easier to consider equality issues in the context of a defined focus.

Advance HE research showed that this is less true across a range of different public bodies for EIA of strategy. It was challenging to identify examples of good practice. There may be a number of reasons for this, including:

  • EIAs not being published in full or providing comprehensive information
  • Equality aims, positioning and intended direction within institutional strategy may not always be specified or clear
  • Information and evidence could be used more effectively at a strategic level to support the high level assessment of equality impact and informed decision making.

Advance HE research indicates that a different approach may be more helpful for strategic EIA and recommends a closer and more direct alignment with broader institutional strategy, including the clear identification of high-level equality priorities within the institutional strategy development and review process.

The full conclusions and recommendations from the Advance HE research are included within this section of the guidance.

The benefits of adopting a strategic approach to EIA

In developing strategy and policy and in decision making, colleges and universities need to consider a range of complex issues and factors. This is an ongoing and iterative process. Responsibility for different streams of work, including different aspects of equality, diversity and inclusion, may also rest with staff at different levels of decision making, in separate teams and functions, and where certain activities may take place in isolation, as distinct responsibilities.     

Adopting a strategic approach to EIA has several key benefits which include:

  • Helping to align and position institutional equality and diversity priorities, including legal equality reporting, within overall strategy
  • Providing a specific mechanism for supporting various connections and links between key institutional drivers and priorities with an equality focus, including core values, mission, ethos and societal or community aims
  • Helping to underpin and develop a proportionate approach and response to equality priorities, impacts and opportunities
  • Setting specific equality objectives within a given strategy or policy framework.     

It is recognised that institutions have individual processes and structures applicable to their circumstances, size and context and a ‘one size fits all’ approach does not always work. This guidance aims to address the key challenges of developing inclusive strategy and policy.

This guidance is focused on a firm recommendation that equality and diversity strategy and priorities should be an integral part of institutional strategy development and business planning from the outset and this provides the foundation for effective  work on equality, diversity and inclusion.

A detailed process and model for strategic EIA are included here. 

EIA in Scotland

Equality Impact Assessment for colleges and universities is a legal requirement and is part of the Scottish specific public sector equality duties (PSED) under the Equality Act 2010.  

Find out more about EIA in Scotland

We would welcome your feedback on the Equality Impact Assessment Guidance

We are interested in ensuring this guidance meets your needs and provides sufficient information that supports your institution to consider and undertake EIA in a strategic context. Our future aim is to further develop and update the guidance with additional tools and examples to make this as relevant and accessible as possible.

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