Equality Data Improvement Programme project board minutes: September 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the project board held on 2 September 2021.

Attendees and apologies

Scottish Government:

  • Audrey MacDougall (AM), Chief Social Researcher, Scottish Government (Chair)
  • Roger Halliday (RH), Chief Statistician, Scottish Government 
  • Sean Stronach (SS), Deputy Director for Equality and Inclusion, Scottish Government
  • Rob Priestley (RP), Strategic Lead – Mainstreaming Equality and Human Rights, Scottish Government
  • David Holmes (DH), Economic Policy & Capability
  • Nick Bland (NB), Strategic Lead, Race Equality, Equality, Inclusion & Human Rights Directorate
  • Nanjika Nasiiro (NN), Deputy Programme Manager, Race Equality, Race Equality, Equality, Inclusion & Human Rights Directorate
  • Jon Hunter (JH), Statistician, Equality Analysis, Scottish Government 
  • Maisy Best (MB), Social Researcher, Equality Analysis 


  • Mark McAllister, COSLA 
  • Andrew Fraser, Public Health Scotland (PHS)
  • Emily Lynch, Improvement Service
  • Lesley Crozier, Scottish Council’s Equality Network 


  • Liz Hawkins, Senior Principal Researcher, Scottish Government 
  • Trevor Owen, Strategic Lead – Mainstreaming Equality and Human Rights, Scottish Government
  • Alan White, Non-Departmental Public Bodies Equality Forum (NDPB Equality Forum)
  • Steven Reid, Non-Departmental Public Bodies Equality Forum (NDPB Equality Forum)
  • Sarah Munro, Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)

Items and actions


AM welcomed attendees to the meeting, and invited brief introductions around the table. 

Following introductions, AM summarised the purpose of the meeting – to provide an overview of the Project Plan and an update on progress; to discuss the Equality Data Audit; and to finalise the Communications and Engagement Strategy. 

MB highlighted actions for the Scottish Government agreed at the Project Board meeting in July 2021 that have not yet been completed:

  • to consider other groups in existence that the EDIP could link into to ensure wider representation of protected characteristics and/or policy areas. Officials will present on the EDIP at the next Non-binary Working Group meeting, but no other groups have been identified. MB invited suggestions from the Project Board
  • to consider what success will look like at the end of the first phase of the EDIP. Officials are currently working on producing indicators of success and will share with the Project Board ahead of the October meeting
  • to consider plans for engagement within individual projects. Officials have considered but are not in a position to share engagement plans for each project as the scope of some projects is still being defined. A detailed update on the intersectionality project will be shared at the October meeting, including engagement plans

No comments were raised. 

Progress update 

MB provided an overview of the Project Plan (paper 1B), including actions currently underway, ongoing and not yet started, and the Highlight Report (paper 1A). 

SS asked for an update on the timeline for the guidance on sex/gender data, and noted that officials should have another look at groups that the EDIP could link into. 

RH highlighted that the National Records of Scotland guidance for the sex question in the Census 2022 has now been published. Publication of the Scottish Government sex/gender guidance is forthcoming, pending Ministerial approval.  

RH provided positive feedback on the commencement of the analytical gatherings, and would be happy to contribute to a gathering on sex and gender. This would be timely over the Autumn following the publication of the sex/gender guidance. AM supported this suggestion.  

RH responded to the risk in the Highlight Report around staff resource, noting that there is a current exercise underway to recruit fixed-term statisticians.

Attendees discussed the ‘Mainstreaming Strategy Deep Dive: Improving Collation and Use of Evidence and Data’ event held on 26 August organised by the Scottish Government’s Mainstreaming and Strategy Unit. It was noted that there was useful discussion at the event that should be used to inform the EDIP project plan going forward. 

RP highlighted that the write-up from the event is nearing completion, and flagged that the key themes arising from discussions at the event align with the aims and actions of the EDIP. RP also highlighted that feedback on the EDIP has been received through stakeholder engagement on the Public Sector Equality Duty. 

Equality data audit 

JH presented slides on the Internal Analytical Network and the first ask of the network – the Equality Data Audit. 

RH asked how public bodies have been engaged in the Audit, particularly Public Health Scotland (PHS), given their significant role in data collection. AM suggested that it would be helpful to ask analytical areas to highlight the extent to which they make use of datasets owned by other public bodies, and that these public bodies should input into the Audit. 

It was agreed that PHS should contribute to the Audit. 

Attendees flagged the importance of ensuring that public sector data owners / collectors inform the development of improvement plans. 

NB highlighted that the Audit is a key piece of work in the context of responding to the recommendations of the Expert Reference Group on COVID-19 and Ethnicity (ERG), and wider work on race equality. NB raised a concern that the current RAG definitions may not effectively drive improvement activity as they may not capture fundamental barriers to collection/publication of data on different ethnic groups (e.g. low sample size preventing publication). 

AM highlighted the issue of small numbers of people in some ethnic groups, and flagged that a ‘red’ RAG rating does not mean it will be possible to easily address the issue.  

Communications and engagement strategy

MB highlighted revisions to the Communications and Engagement Strategy based on discussions at the July meeting and invited comments on a draft blog post.  

Attendees highlighted a need to specify alternative ways to engage with local politicians, as SPICe will only target national politicians. It was suggested that COSLA and the Improvement Service could facilitate communication and engagement with local politicians/local government. 

Further revisions to the Communications and Engagement Strategy were discussed, including providing more nuance on the ways in which different stakeholder groups will be engaged.  

RH flagged the need to work with the ONS to ensure alignment in communications where consistent messaging would be helpful. 

Attendees agreed to publish the current draft of the Communications and Engagement Strategy as a working document. 

AOB and close 

AM summarised agreed actions, thanked all for attending and for their input in the meeting. No AOB raised. 


  • SG to organise a sex/gender analytical gathering, with contribution from RH
  • SG to engage with public sector bodies as part of the Equality Data Audit
  • SG to consider definitions of RAG ratings within the Equality Data Audit
  • SG to publish the Communications and Engagement Strategy as a working document
  • SG to develop the Communications and Engagement Strategy, including providing more nuance on the ways in which different stakeholder groups will be engaged
  • Project Board members to provide feedback on the draft blog post via email to MB and JH


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