Equality Data Improvement Programme (EDIP) Project Board minutes: 2 November 2022

Minutes from the meeting held on 2 November 2022.

Attendees and apologies

Scottish Government (SG)

  • Jon Hunter (JH), Statistician, Equality Analysis Team
  • Maisy Best (MB), Senior Social Researcher, Equality Analysis Team
  • Nick Bland (NB), Equality, Directorate for Inclusion and Human Rights 
  • David Holmes, Directorate for Chief Economist
  • Michaela Wilson Martincova, Directorate for Chief Economist


  • Lesley Crozier, Scottish Council's Equality Network
  • Jordon Gorevan (JG), Non-Departmental Public Bodies Equality Forum (NDPB Equality Forum)
  • Anna Grant (AG), Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
  • Kelly Muir (KM), Public Health Scotland (PHS)


  • Audrey MacDougall, Chief Social Researcher
  • Alastair McAlpine, Chief Statistician 
  • Jonathan Wright, Senior Principal Researcher, Equality and Social Justice Analysis
  • Emily Lynch, Improvement Service
  • Mark McAllister, COSLA

Items and actions


JH welcomed attendees to the meeting and invited introductions from new attendees.

Following introductions, JH summarised the purpose of the meeting - to discuss views raised by stakeholders at six engagement workshops held in August and September 2022.

Overview of emerging findings

MB presented slides highlighting key findings under five themes. After the presentation of each theme, JH led a discussion with attendees to gather reflections.

Barriers to the collection of equality evidence

AG asked whether a lack of resources was noted as a barrier to the collection and use of equality evidence among data collectors and users.

MB responded that a lack of resources had been highlighted by a number of workshop attendees, in relation to both lack of staff resource and budget, especially with respect to facilitating larger scale data improvements. However, stakeholders also noted that lack of resources should not be used as a reason for not gathering or using equality evidence

Attendees noted stakeholder feedback that the move to online data collection, whilst bringing many benefits, is likely to exclude some groups, such as older people.

JG highlighted need for greater consistency in question wording and response options were discussed, including the need to encourage data collectors across the public sector to use the Census 2022 questions. JH highlighted that the Scottish Government guidance on the gathering of equality data was recently updated, in line with the Census 2022 questions, but there is more work to do to promote the guidance.

Stakeholder feedback on the need to increase public understanding about why equality information is collected, what it is used for and who it will be shared with was discussed.

Attendees noted that the lack of consistency in question wording and response options may contribute to reluctance to provide equality information. 

KM suggested that increasing understanding among data collectors about why equality information is being collected and what it is used for could be helpful as they could better explain this to the public. KM highlighted PHS’ “Happy to Ask, Happy to Tell” resource as an example. This resource is currently being updated by PHS.  JH asked that the updated resource be shared with the equality analysis team when it is available.  

KM asked whether anything could be learnt from advertising undertaken to encourage responses to the Census 2022, and were keen to understand whether this comms activity was effective in increasing response rates.

NB suggested that, alongside communicative activities, there could be a place for a Ministerial communication to public bodies to remind them of their statutory requirement to collect and use equality data.

Barriers to the use of equality evidence

Attendees discussed stakeholder views that GDPR is too often used as a reason not to collect equality data.

NB asked what mechanisms are in place to ensure accountability in government analysis (e.g. in the production of official/national statistics) and whether an accountability mechanism could be introduced. It was noted by NB that are already some accountable mechanisms in place/planned including:

  • the First Minister’s NACWG, which has begun a second phase of scrutiny and accountability, which includes recommendations on gender data
  • a race observatory body, which is to be established as a result of a key recommendation of the ERG, which will include a focus on race evidence and could perform an accountability function

Attendees noted that evidencing how equality evidence has been used to effect demonstrable change in policy design and service delivery is important.

Best practice sharing events were viewed as being helpful, noting that organisations across the public sector are all in a different place with respect to capacity.  JH mentioned the work already carried out as part of the EDIP, examining good practice in public bodies.

There is a need for clear information and potential support with interpretation of equality data, and work to understand how we present data in a way that is most useful and clear.

Attendees spoke of the need to increase the buy-in of senior leaders and other attendees concurred. 

Improving access to equality evidence

Attendees noted that there appears to be some conflict in stakeholder feedback on the Equality Evidence Finder, e.g. asks for more accessible presentation vs. asks for the inclusion of a broader range of intersectional evidence.

Attendees suggested that the Equality Evidence Finder could include more narrative to spell out the “so what” of the evidence.

JG noted that there is a need to make better use of broader equality evidence, including information gathered through consultations.

Attendees suggested that there may be some learning from work undertaken to reframe health inequalities and also from other similar tools, including the GSS UK equalities data dashboard.  AG suggested the use of analytics to better understand users. 

Vision and indicators of success

JG noted the importance of ensuring the vision is written in plain English.

Attendees were supportive of stakeholder feedback that the vision should include the ultimate aim of reducing inequality.

It was suggested that it may work best to have a general vision accompanied with a series of SMART objectives.

Attendees suggested considering how the vision from the 2017-21 Equality Evidence Strategy informed action.

Improving the equality evidence base

JG noted challenges around disaggregating equality data, especially where sample sizes within organisations are small.

Any other business and close

JH thanked the attendees for their valuable contributions which will provide useful insights for the Equality Analysis Team in the writing of the equality evidence strategy.  He invited any further contributions by email e.g. information on relevant ongoing work and publications to support the contributions  made by stakeholders

MB also thanked the attendees and looked ahead to the next board meeting on 23 November. 


  • equality analysis to take on board Project Board feedback in the drafting of the strategy
  • equality analysis team to further publicise the latest guidance on the gathering of equality data
  • equality analysis team to explore options for increasing accountability, including the suggested ministerial correspondence
  • project board members to provide any further views and suggestions to JH and MB via email e.g. information on relevant ongoing work and publications to support the contributions  made by stakeholders
  • PHS to keep the equality analysis team updated on the revision to the “Happy to Ask, Happy to Tell” resource
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