Equality Data Improvement Programme Project Board: terms of reference

Full terms of reference for the Equality Data Improvement Programme Project Board.


Robust and comprehensive equality evidence is vital for the design and delivery of inclusive policies and services. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed deep-rooted structural inequality in our society and exacerbated the disproportionate impact on individuals and groups who already experience disadvantage. Going forward, there is a clear collective need and a desire for better equality evidence.

Since the launch of Scotland’s previous Equality Evidence Strategy in 2017, progress has been made by the Scottish Government to strengthen the equality evidence base. This complements improvement work undertaken across the wider public sector.

Following the conclusion of the Equality Evidence Strategy 2017-2021, the Equality Data Improvement Programme (EDIP) was launched in April 2021 to lay the groundwork for the development of an ambitious cross-professional data improvement plan for the future. The first phase of the EDIP built on the work being taken forward by individual analytical areas to produce evidence, guidance, best practice and enhanced networks to improve equality data in the short term.

Scotland’s new Equality Evidence Strategy, which covers the period March 2023 to December 2025, sets out a refreshed vision based on a range of stakeholder feedback gathered through consultation and engagement events. The vision is:

To tackle structural and intersectional inequality of outcomes, Scotland’s equality evidence base will become more accessible, wide-ranging and robust. A stronger evidence base will enable the development and delivery of sound, inclusive policies and services and enable the measurement of improvements in the lives of all of Scotland’s people.

The vision is made up of three core principles, which describe how the Scottish Government and its partners will achieve this vision together:

  • principle 1 - more robust and comprehensive data and evidence will be gathered on the intersecting characteristics of people in Scotland across a range of outcomes
  • principle 2 - equality evidence will be made more easily accessible so users will be able to access what they need, when they need it
  • principle 3 - good practice will be shared and promoted to support increased confidence and competence in the production and use of robust equality evidence

The first phase - April 2021 to March 2023 

The first phase of the EDIP commenced in April 2021, and comprised a series of projects led by the Scottish Government that were undertaken over a two year period. The purpose of this preparatory phase of the EDIP was to focus on the process elements of equality data collection. It considered quantitative and qualitative data in relation to the nine protected characteristics, and intersectionality.

The first phase of the EDIP aimed to understand barriers to equality data collection and to develop good practice guidance and case study examples. It also allowed public bodies to input their views of how we can best support the data element of the further roll-out of mainstreaming work in the public sector.

The first phase also included actions to progress data development in priority areas, including data linkage work. The first phase of the EDIP also linked into, showcased and learnt from data development already underway across the Scottish Government and wider public sector.

The first phase of the EDIP concluded in March 2023 with the publication of Scotland’s Equality Evidence Strategy 2023-2025.

The second phase: March 2023 to December 2025

The second phase of the EDIP is focused on implementing the three year programme of work published in the Equality Evidence Strategy 2023-2025. 

The strategy sets out the Scottish Government’s approach to improving and strengthening Scotland’s equality evidence base up to the end of 2025, at which point new Census data is expected to be available. The strategy presents 45 actions identified by the Scottish Government and NRS across a number of key themes. These actions cover improvements to the data on a range of equality variables, including data on all nine of the protected characteristics. Many of the actions focus on improvements to routinely-used datasets and statistical outputs to ensure investment in evidence sources known already to inform significant decision making. However, there are also likely to be numerous social research questions that will arise over the course of the strategy which will be considered and prioritised locally based on policy needs, stakeholder input and available resources. 

The Project Board

To support the first phase of the EDIP, the Scottish Government established a Project Board, which was a key forum for external stakeholder input into the first phase of the EDIP. The Project Board will continue to support the second phase of the EDIP, through the implementation of Scotland’s Equality Evidence Strategy from March 2023 to December 2025. While the Equality Evidence Strategy 2023-2025 focuses on improvement to a range of equality variables (The characteristics covered in this strategy are: sex, gender, age, disability, race (including ethnicity), gender reassignment (including trans status), sexual orientation, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership.), its scope will be regularly reviewed and the Project Board will consider whether or not EDIP is the appropriate vehicle for taking forward any work that lies beyond these bounds. 

In addition to the Project Board, input will continue to be sought from a range of relevant external stakeholders, including public sector bodies, equality advocacy organisations and data experts (e.g. academics), on a project-specific basis. A network of analysts in each analytical area within the Scottish Government was established to support the programme, and will remain in place throughout the second phase of the programme.

The EDIP will adopt an Open Government approach, which will include publishing  regular progress updates (including an interim progress report in late 2024) and making key outputs publicly-available (including minutes from EDIP Project Board meetings). It is envisaged that the interim progress report will provide an update on progress made on each action, alongside an indication of the impact of completed actions and any ‘lessons learned’.


The Project Board brings together stakeholders from a range of public sector organisations, with representatives from the Scottish Government. The purpose of the Project Board is to:

  • support the delivery of actions in the second phase of the EDIP, including monitoring progress towards the implementation of the Equality Evidence Strategy 2023-2025
  • facilitate the join-up of the EDIP with ongoing and upcoming work to provide feedback and insights on equality data collection in the public sector and barriers faced, including expertise and experience of practical, evidence-based solutions and good practice
  • contribute to the identification of sources of practical expertise and guidance in equality data analysis, including facilitating links within their networks to ensure successful delivery
  • provide feedback during and following the completion of actions to ensure impacts and lessons learned are shared with lead analysts to inform the delivery of future improvement activity


The Project Board will support the second phase of the EDIP over a three-year period from publication of the Equality Evidence Strategy 2023-2025 in March 2023 to the end of the strategy implementation period in December 2025. The Project Board will meet quarterly. Where it is considered beneficial, sub-groups will be established to support with the delivery of specific actions.


The Project Board will be co-chaired by the Scottish Government Chief Social Researcher and Chief Statistician.

Membership includes representatives from:

  • Convention of Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • Public Health Scotland (PHS)
  • Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
  • Non-Departmental Public Bodies Equality Forum (NDPB Equality Forum)
  • Scottish Council’s Equality Network (SCEN)
  • Improvement Service
  • Equality, Inclusion and Human Rights Directorate, Scottish Government
  • Economic Policy & Capability Division, Directorate for Chief Economist, Scottish Government

Membership will be kept under review,

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