Public Sector Equality Duty Implementation of Scottish Specific Duties: Views from public authorities

This explored Scottish public authorities’ experiences in approaching their Public Sector Equality Duties. This report presents views about what authorities have learnt from their implementation of the Scottish specific duties.

The Scottish Government commissioned the research in September 2013, to help inform Scottish Ministers as they prepare to meet their duty to publish proposals for activity to enable the better performance of the Public Sector Equality Duty.

Chapter 2 Developing Equality Outcomes


2.1 This chapter summarises the views of authorities in relation to the process of developing equality outcomes. Under the specific duties, authorities must have published equality outcomes by 30 April 2013. Authorities must also publish a report on progress made to achieve equality outcomes by 30 April 2015. Equality outcomes must be updated at least every four years.

2.2 In preparing equality outcomes, authorities are required to:

  • take reasonable steps to involve people with a relevant protected characteristic and anyone who appears to them to represent the interests of people with a relevant protected characteristic; and
  • consider relevant evidence relating to people who share a relevant protected characteristic.

2.3 If the equality outcomes do not cover people with all relevant protected characteristics, authorities are required to explain why.

2.4 This chapter explores:

  • the process for producing equality outcomes - including who led the process and the support provided by others;
  • the use of evidence - including how useful, reliable and robust this was in informing the development of equality outcomes;
  • experiences of the engagement process - including the process and the challenges experienced;
  • experiences of working with other public authorities in developing equality outcomes;
  • key success factors, barriers and challenges;
  • the (broad) resources involved in producing equality outcomes; and
  • the immediate and potential longer term impact of developing equality outcomes.

Process for producing equality outcomes

2.5 Respondents were asked to describe the approach that they adopted to meeting the duties.

Lead responsibility

2.6 In most cases, larger authorities (including local authorities, NHS Boards, Non Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs) and national organisations) tended to have a dedicated officer who led on equalities work - or a dedicated equalities team. These posts were often located within corporate teams, for example, the Chief Executive's office, Corporate, Strategy and Performance or Human Resources (HR) divisions or directorates, whilst in some cases they were part of the Community Planning teams. However, in some of the smaller NHS territorial Boards, the equalities work tended to be part of the officer's wider role, or provided by another NHS Board.

2.7 These dedicated officers generally had wide ranging remits that included, for example, providing advice and support on legislation to the development of policy and plans to meet the duties. As part of this, officers might be involved in providing advice and support to staff, elected members, board members, senior management teams and service delivery teams on all aspects of equality.

2.8 Within the majority of educational bodies, equalities work was either led by senior officers (at Vice Principal or Director level) or by officers based within HR teams or directorates. Some of the officers said that they felt they were the only individuals within their organisations with a responsibility for equalities.

2.9 Some smaller organisations commented that they did not have a dedicated equalities officer and the equalities work tended to be added to someone's work portfolio. Some of these organisations felt that there was often no real "expertise" in equalities, which meant that people often had to learn on the job. Some said that as a result, they felt a bit exposed. Others were grateful for the support that they had received from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). A few respondents had commissioned support from consultants due to limited capacity within their staff teams.

Example: Working with consultants to deliver equality outcomes

When the Scottish specific duties came into force in 2012, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) identified a need to recruit expert consultancy support to assist in developing equality outcomes, undertaking staff and customer engagement and promoting mainstreaming. With the strong support of the equalities champion, senior management team and Trade Unions, SPT was able to ensure that employees and customers were actively and meaningfully engaged in the process.

Consultancy support meant that policy and HR staff had the time and space to lead the work while also playing a full part in discussions around the issues and challenges emerging. Recruiting a consultant to provide guidance, support and to facilitate engagement was critical to developing outcomes in an effective and focused way. In addition, the opportunity to take an objective approach to SPT's equalities work and to critically appraise projects, policies and initiatives proved valuable in giving greater confidence in taking forward the challenge of continuing to meet equalities responsibilities for both customers and staff.

External support "was very effective, and [it] would have been a much more difficult process otherwise".

Support from others

2.10 The majority of authorities had worked closely with their boards or governance committees, senior management teams and senior managers from across services to develop their proposals to meet the duties and produce equalities outcomes. Many said that this was critical to securing buy-in and getting support to drive the process forward. However, a few respondents had struggled to get buy-in from senior managers.

"We had to get buy-in from the top."

(Local Government)

Example: Involving all strands of the business

Skills Development Scotland was keen to ensure that equality was built in "from the top down" so the board identified an 'equalities champion'. This person chairs the external Equalities Advisory Group which includes representatives from each of the protected characteristic groups, including Stonewall, Close the Gap, and Capability Scotland, for example. This group meets quarterly and acts as a sounding board for any new policy, services or changes.

Internally there is also an Equality Management Group and an Equality Champions Group made up of front line staff.

A working group, made up of representatives from each part of the business was established to develop equality outcomes and a senior manager was appointed for each of the outcomes to ensure there was buy-in throughout the organisation, and not just the responsibility of the Equality and Diversity team.

2.11 In addition, others had worked with internal corporate equalities groups that included representation from senior managers or service leads from across their organisations. Many said that these groups helped to provide leadership in taking forward the work to meet the duties. A few respondents also mentioned that they worked with Equalities Champions within their organisations.

"The Equality and Diversity Group Steering Group does a really good job."

(NHS Board)

Example: Departmental approach to developing equality outcomes

The lead for equality at Inverclyde Council helped managers from each of the organisation's three directorates to produce their own set of equality outcomes. These were then reviewed at corporate level and aligned with the council's overarching strategic themes. Each directorate has representation from Equalities Champions on the Corporate Equalities Group. This departmental approach combined with early buy-in from senior management, resulted in a successful process towards meeting the equality duties.

Developing equality outcomes

2.12 Authorities were asked to describe how their organisations had developed equality outcomes. Many said that the biggest challenge to developing equality outcomes was knowing where to start. Many felt that there was a lack of clarity in terms of what was expected in relation to equality outcomes. Others commented that the guidance provided by EHRC was not clear, and was open to interpretation.

"We all struggled with this [where to start] across the country."

(NHS Board)

2.13 A few authorities said that a lot of "hand-holding" was required within their organisations in the early stages and that people within their organisation had to be supported to take responsibility for the work that was required to meet the equality duties. Another respondent reported that prior to the consultation on the outcomes, they ran a number of capacity building sessions for staff and the community to help people understand the aims and purpose of the work that was being done to meet the duties.

"People are scared of equalities."

(NHS Board)

2.14 Generally, authorities adopted fairly similar approaches to developing the equality outcomes. Normally authorities initially undertook some form of mapping exercise, where available information and evidence was gathered and analysed. This was then used to identify gaps and to define priorities for action. In some cases this was used as a basis for further consultation with key external stakeholders. Often the prioritisation exercise involved some form of scoring or ranking system.

Example: Developing equality outcomes

The corporate equality officer for West Dunbartonshire Council described their process for developing equality outcomes. He identified some areas that could be considered as the focus for outcomes and carried out secondary research into each of these areas. A mapping exercise of protected characteristics against particular local issues was then undertaken. This involved the creation of a spreadsheet, which logged the specific issues of protected characteristic groups against employment, service delivery and housing, among others. This mapping exercise was used to build up evidence around protected group issues and provided the catalyst for discussion with relevant service departments and community equality groups. Combined with other evidence, this piece of work helped to focus and inform the development of equality outcomes.

Example: Scoping outcomes

NHS Lanarkshire adopted a very pragmatic approach to developing its outcomes. Its overall aim was to produce outcomes that were practical and deliverable.

At the outset NHS Lanarkshire's Equality and Diversity Steering Group identified potential outcome areas, where both local and national evidence supported the need for additional work to ensure better inclusion.

The equalities and diversity manager then met with lead clinical and general managers from across NHS Lanarkshire to discuss these priority areas and asked them to develop potential outcomes, using a standard pro forma. As part of this they had to:

  • provide any supporting evidence and data;
  • consider the impact that the proposed outcome was going to have on one or more of the protected characteristics;
  • assess how work in this area would improve the experience of service users;
  • identify potential measurements and actions to show direct long and short term impact; and
  • provide evidence of recent involvement and consultation with the target groups.

The information gathered from the pro formas helped inform the prioritisation process and the development of NHS Lanarkshire's five equality outcomes.

The equality and diversity manager said that using a standardised pro forma to collect information was very useful, not only in terms of informing the prioritisation exercise, but also in helping to scope out individual outcomes.

The approach that was adopted by NHS Lanarkshire has ensured that the outcomes that have been developed are clear and simple, and are also owned and being delivered by relevant operational leads.

2.15 Some authorities said that their starting point was to look at existing plans and strategies or previous Single Equality Schemes, and to see what was already being done to support equalities and to identify any gaps from this.

"We used what we already had."

(NHS Board)

2.16 A number of authorities highlighted the importance of ensuring that the equality outcomes were aligned to existing strategic or corporate plans and also embedded within individual service delivery plans.

2.17 For most respondents, consultation was a critical part of this process, whether with external groups to gather views on key priorities, or with internal groups to get buy-in and support to the delivery of the outcomes.

"It was a bit of a selling job sometimes."

(Local Government)

2.18 One local authority respondent had worked with their community planning partners to develop shared outcomes in relation to tackling violence against women and dealing with hate Incidents.

2.19 A number of education bodies raised issues that were specific to their particular sector. For example, a number of further education colleges highlighted the fact that they were trying to develop equality outcomes at a time when proposals for college mergers were being taken forward and that there were sensitivities around this. Some colleges had tried to work with their future merger partners to develop joint outcomes, whilst others focused on developing their own equality outcomes. Many of the colleges said that their outcomes would have to be reviewed once the mergers had taken place.

"It would be better if we had the time to do it together, now we have to do it again."

(Education Body)

2.20 In addition, some of the education bodies expressed frustration that they were being asked to develop equality outcomes to meet the duties, at the same time as the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council was introducing a new outcome based approach to funding. This meant that organisations were being expected to produce two sets of outcomes for different purposes. Many felt that these processes could have been better co-ordinated and aligned to save duplication of time and effort.

2.21 A few of the smaller authorities commented that they were not aware until quite late on in the process that they were required to develop equality outcomes. Some said that they struggled with this due to the lack of expertise and staff resources.

Example: Integrated approach to equality

The equality and diversity advisor for Heriot-Watt outlined a holistic approach to meeting the equality duties, to ensure consistency and cohesion across the range of equality related projects underway at the time and to avoid duplication.

Heriot-Watt has been involved in a tailored programme for four Higher Education Institutions with the Equality Challenge Unit, designed to help them mainstream equality into existing processes. This project supported Heriot-Watt as they developed work to mainstream equality into existing governance and management structures. The university was also undertaking work in relation to the Athena Swan Charter at the same time, which is an award scheme recognising commitment to advancing women's careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine and Maths.

The equality and diversity manager stated that evidence gathered for these equality projects influenced the development of the equality outcomes.

"Lots of equalities work is happening in tandem."

Use of evidence

2.22 We asked authorities about the evidence that they had used to inform the development of their outcomes. Most authorities had used a variety of both quantitative and qualitative information sources.

External sources

2.23 Many pointed to national information and research available through the Scottish Government, for example, Census information, Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics and the Scottish Government's Equalities Evidence Finder. Others referred to information that was shared across community planning partners locally. A number of respondents said that information provided by some equality organisations - such as Stonewall Scotland and LGBT Youth Scotland - was very useful.

2.24 Some education bodies had used statistical information that was available through the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council and the Equality Challenge Unit. A few also mentioned that they had sourced information from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, but said that there was a charge for tailored information requests. One authority referred to the Research Excellence Framework[5] as being a useful source of robust evidence, as it quality assessed research for UK Higher Education Institutions. However, a number of education bodies felt that there was a lack of robust baseline information and also benchmarking information.

2.25 A number of NDPBs and organisations delivering services nationally commented that there was a lack of information and evidence available that was relevant to their particular service (or geographical area of operation) and that sometimes they had had to rely on anecdotal or national information.

2.26 There was fairly strong agreement among respondents that the evidence base was "patchy" and "a bit of a mixed bag". Most felt that there were gaps in evidence, particularly at the local level and also among some of the protected characteristic groups - particularly religion and belief, sexual orientation and gender reassignment.

2.27 Many respondents had experienced problems accessing reliable and up to date information, as much of the Census 2011 information had not been available at the time that the equality outcomes were being developed. Others commented that it was not always possible to apply national trend information to the local level, particularly in rural and remote rural areas.

Internal sources

2.28 Respondents also gathered information from their own internal sources, for example, staff surveys, service monitoring information and customer complaint information. However, some respondents said that there were limitations with some of this information in terms of its reliability and coverage.

2.29 Where there were identified gaps in evidence and information, some respondents gathered this information using a variety of different methods, for example, online surveys, community surveys, commissioning primary research or undertaking in-house desk-based research.

2.30 Some NHS respondents commented that within the health service there was a strong bias towards the use of quantitative information and that there were questions about the use of qualitative information, as this was viewed as "weak evidence". Some were frustrated that they couldn't use anecdotal evidence to justify outcomes in certain areas. There was a concern about focusing on the areas only where the evidence was strongest - as this may mean some major inequalities were not tackled.

"Public Health is very evidence based. What counts as evidence in some sectors is not sufficiently robust to justify action in public health terms."

(NHS Board)

2.31 However, some authorities gave examples of how they had used evidence positively, to inform the development of their outcomes.

Example: Evidence to underpin the outcomes

Glasgow City Council spent a great deal of time developing as robust an evidence base as possible, so that properly informed decisions about outcomes could be taken. This involved a full review of a range of documents including:

  • UK Government research publications;
  • the Scottish Government work on equality statistics (to set the scene);
  • information on protected characteristics prepared by the council's Development and Regeneration Services based on a range of databases, including the Census, Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics and SIMD;
  • reviewing recent research on protected characteristics carried out for the Glasgow Community Planning Partnership; and
  • research by equality and research organisations (such as EHRC, Stonewall and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation).

Work which had been commissioned by the community planning partnership in recent years had been very appropriate - and meant that there was not a need to commission additional research specifically to support the development of equality outcomes. There was considerable evidence (although it was, of course, not fully complete) and it was felt that "our evidence was an absolutely vital part of the development of the outcomes and supported the whole process".

All the information was analysed (using an Excel spreadsheet) based on all the protected characteristics and a range of themes (for example, health, housing, education and so on). Although much information was collated, this was then summarised on a series of one-page fact sheets for each. These fact sheets were used as a basis for discussion at a development workshop (for council staff), which focused on five key emerging themes.

The development workshop identified a range of additional evidence that it would be valuable to research in the future (and it is hoped that at least some of this additional research will be in place to inform future decisions on outcomes). The issues arising were then matched to the views of service departments through a discussion around "what can we do about these issues". As a result 15 areas of concern were identified for wider consultation - which eventually led to the agreement of the equality outcomes.

"The evidence review was undoubtedly the most successful and important part of the development of our outcomes - it underpinned our whole approach."


2.32 We asked authorities who they consulted and engaged with beyond their organisations, and what their experience of this process was.

2.33 Many respondents, particularly local authorities and NHS Boards, had consulted with a wide range of stakeholders, for example, staff, service users, local communities, local and national equalities groups and voluntary sector organisations.

2.34 Respondents highlighted a number of different consultation methods that they had used, including online surveys and Have Your Say forums; focus groups and group discussions; service user panels; Citizens' Panels; community conferences and drop-in sessions. A few respondents had started to look at more innovative approaches to consultation and engagement using social media.

Example: Engagement in developing outcomes

NHS Forth Valley undertook fairly extensive consultation and engagement with service users and local groups to inform the development of their equality outcomes. In particular, it was particularly successful in its approach to engaging with young people and people from ethnic minority groups, using a variety of different and innovative methods.

From the outset, NHS Forth Valley recognised the importance of getting the views of young people, as they were the "adults of the future". As a result, it organised a one-day event specifically targeted at young people under 18.

"It was an exceptionally good day, one of the best days of my working life, as I felt that I had done a good days work."

Discussions at the young people's event highlighted that young carers had quite different experiences. As a follow up to this, NHS Forth Valley organised another smaller scale event looking at the specific needs and challenges faced by young carers, referred to as the "Fish and Chip" night.

Since then, NHS Forth Valley has been working with young carers to develop YouTube clips focusing on the needs of young carers and their experiences of the NHS. The young people involved did not focus on the negative aspects of care but worked towards developing a resource that could give positive ideas to NHS personnel about how they can enhance their practice.

The YouTube clip has now been completed. It has been highlighted by the Scottish Health Council as an area of best practice.

Similarly, NHS Forth Valley has had discussions with people attending English as a Second and Other Language classes (ESOL), which they said was extremely informative in developing outcomes and getting views on the NHS Forth Valley's services more generally.

From the discussions with the local community, NHS Forth Valley is developing an easy to read resource about how to access NHS services i.e. emergency departments, pharmacies etc. This one page resource will support people to have a greater awareness of what is provided by respective NHS services to ensure that the best use is made of these services. This will save people waiting for general practitioner (GP) appointments, when support could be given by a pharmacist.

2.35 Some local authority respondents had used equality organisations or networks to try to involve some of the "harder to reach" groups. Some NHS Boards said that in addition to running targeted focus groups with particular interest groups, they also organised a range of community events through their Public Partnership Forums. Others had worked with NHS special boards (which focus on particular aspects of service delivery and support, rather than geographical areas of operation) to consult with "harder to reach" groups. However, many respondents felt that despite their efforts, it was not always possible to reach everyone.

"We did engage as far as we could through various groups. However, often people did not want to be involved unless it was really affecting them. Therefore it was difficult to reach everyone."

(NHS Board)

Example: Consulting with different groups

West Lothian Council already had a number of formal involvement mechanisms in place for consulting with different equalities groups. There are eight groups they are in regular communication with, including:

  • Disability Community Forum
  • Race Community Forum
  • LGBT Youth Forum
  • Gender Equality Forum
  • Staff Equality Network
  • Mental Health Forum
  • Older People's Forum
  • Youth Congress.

The council also held two capacity building sessions for staff and interested members of the local community. The aim of these sessions was to ensure that the aim and purpose of the equality outcomes were understood and could be scrutinised.

Once the outcomes were drafted, each group had the chance to comment, as did elected members through the council's Scrutiny Committee.

2.36 Many of the education bodies said that they tended to focus consultation and engagement efforts on staff and students, as this was "their community". Some commented that it was hard to engage meaningfully with other organisations that were not involved in the education/ college sector about outcomes, as they had very different perspectives. A number highlighted the large numbers of overseas students attending their university, which presented challenges in engaging with potential students.

"It is tough for universities as their communities are often international as well as local."

(Education Body)

2.37 A number of authorities were wary of "consultation fatigue", and as a result had (where possible) sought to organise joint consultation events with their community planning partners. Others said that rather than undertaking more consultation, they made use of information that had been gathered at previous involvement events.

2.38 A small number of authorities highlighted the challenges of consulting in rural and remote rural areas, particularly in relation to protected characteristics, as often there were not many representative groups in these areas. Others felt that engaging with the general public had not been successful.

"There are not really any effective representation forums in Caithness for protected groups, e.g. disability forums."

(Education Body)

"People didn't want to be involved."

(NHS Board)

"Not everyone identified with the issues."

(Local Government)

2.39 Many said that their engagement and involvement approaches had been useful in informing the development of their equality outcomes.

"We did a really good job and it helped to crystallise what we needed to do, and it also got people to take ownership of the agenda and to take it forward."

(Education Body)

2.40 However, some felt that there was still scope for improvement. A minority underlined the importance of ensuring that information gathered through consultation and engagement events was backed up with evidence. Many respondents, particularly some of the smaller public authorities, commented that engagement was very "time consuming" and "resource intensive".

Example: Consulting with different groups

NHS Grampian has four standing equality committees; Disability, Race, Religion and Faith and 'Equality and Diversity' which deals with all the other protected characteristics. These four standing committees were heavily involved in working with groups representing the protected characteristics.

Since 2008, NHS Grampian has held 'involvement events'. For example, one is held with minority ethnic communities, where over 150 people from different minority group organisations (including NHS Grampian frontline staff) come together to discuss priorities. These events also allow discussion on what has worked and what has not with NHS Grampian during the previous year.

The feedback from these events directly contributes to equality outcomes.

Similar involvement groups take place with organisations representing the other protected characteristics.

"This is the only way to do it - there is no point sitting behind a desk, thinking

you know what your local equality and diversity communities want."

Working with others

2.41 We asked authorities if they worked with or shared experiences with other public authorities, either locally or nationally.

Local networks

2.42 A number of local authority and NHS respondents had worked closely with their community planning partners. However, some commented that at the time the work was being taken forward to meet the duties, their Police and Fire partners were pre-occupied with their own internal re-organisations and it was therefore difficult to engage with them. In one area, community planning partners had produced joint outcomes.

Example: Community planning partnership approach

In Shetland, authorities took a partnership approach to developing their mainstreaming report and equality outcomes. NHS Shetland and Shetland Council led the work with input from the other community planning partners, principally ZETRANS and Shetland College. This approach was discussed and agreed with the EHRC.

Shetland's unique location and the fact that the majority of the listed authorities were "under the same roof" and were led by officers employed by the Council meant that a partnership approach made sense. Similarly, unlike many other parts of Scotland, the Council and NHS Board covered the same geographic area.

"Location had certainly helped this approach."

The officers involved felt that the approach had been successful and delivered a number of benefits including:

  • helping organisations to think "more broadly" about people in Shetland;
  • improving multi-agency working; and
  • minimising the amount of consultation by the various public authorities.

The lead officers also commented that it had helped to "share the load" a bit, as otherwise meeting the duties would have been a considerable challenge for the individual organisations given the limited staff resources available.

"It was good to be able to share knowledge, experience and expertise."

2.43 Some education bodies had worked with their local community planning partners, and said that this had been beneficial. It was seen as a good way to combine and share resources, particularly in relation to consultation and engagement.

2.44 Respondents provided a number of examples of informal collaborative working. A few local authorities had worked closely with their neighbouring authorities. Some NHS territorial boards had worked closely with other NHS Boards to develop their outcomes and gather baseline information. A small number of the education bodies had used their own informal networks with other colleges and universities to share experiences. The two national park authorities had also worked closely together when developing their equality outcomes.

2.45 Some local authority respondents had worked closely with local equality networks. Others, including a few NHS territorial boards, felt that they had developed good relations with local equality groups and third sector organisations in their areas.

National networks

2.46 A significant number of local authorities said that they were part of the Scottish Councils' Equality Network and that this was a very useful forum for sharing information and best practice.

"This is an invaluable network. It enables me to keep in regular contact with other councils. We meet quarterly and share our experiences."

(Local Government)

2.47 Others made reference to the useful workshops and events that had been organised by Scottish Government, the EHRC and the Confederation of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA). However, a few - largely NHS Boards - felt the EHRC events had not been helpful, as they tended to focus on local authorities and that there was not enough good practice information available that was relevant for other sectors.

2.48 A number of the NHS Boards highlighted the valuable work undertaken through the NHS's national Equality and Diversity Group to develop the evidence base, and also the workshops that had been organised through this group on outcome setting. Respondents felt that this was an effective way to combine and use resources across Scotland.

2.49 Most education bodies were linked into national networks, for example, Scottish Higher Education Liaison Group and Scotland's Colleges Group. Respondents believed these forums were very useful for sharing best practice, finding out about training and comparing approaches. Many education bodies highlighted the important role of the Equality Challenge Unit in providing support and guidance, particularly in relation to developing outcomes.

2.50 Some of the other bodies had attended events organised though the Public Sector Employers Diversity Network and the NDPB Equality Forum. Again, there was strong agreement that these forums were good for networking with other public authorities, sharing information and getting moral support. Others, for example the regional transport partnerships, said that they were part of a wider network of similar bodies across Scotland.

Example: Networking and collaboration

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) said that a lot of the work that was required to meet the duties was new to the staff team within SEPA that had been tasked to drive this forward.

"We were not equality experts."

They were therefore grateful for the support that they received from the equality manager at Scottish Enterprise to help develop SEPA's proposals to meet the duties. They had met him at a networking event organised by the NDPB Equality Forum. An informal secondment arrangement was set up with Scottish Enterprise, where the equality manager provided support one day per week to SEPA to assist with the production of the mainstreaming report and equality outcomes.

Both organisations felt that they had benefited from the secondment arrangement. SEPA was able to tap into Scottish Enterprise's equality manager's knowledge and experience in relation to equalities, and the equality manager was able to learn more about what SEPA does and benefit from new and innovative approaches to the duties which were taken back to Scottish Enterprise.

"The Scottish Enterprise secondment was invaluable."

Success factors

2.51 Authorities were asked about the success factors that had enabled them to develop the equality outcomes effectively. A number of organisations highlighted the importance of getting senior level buy-in and support and that this had helped to raise the profile of equalities within their organisations and made it easier to get others to take ownership of the delivery of key actions. As part of this, a few had produced guidance or ran training courses for board members and senior managers to ensure that they were aware of their requirements under the duties.

"They took the agenda seriously."

(Education Body)

2.52 Others felt that one of the key success factors was the commitment and positive attitude of staff in helping to contribute to meeting the duties.

"It went well because people gave their utmost."

(Other Body)

2.53 Working with others was also a key success factor. Many underlined the importance of working with their local partners, whether in the public or voluntary sectors, stating that these relationships were "beneficial" and "mutually supportive". One NHS Board said that working closely with their local authority partners had helped to identify a set of common priorities and that in the future it might be possible to move towards developing shared or common outcomes.

2.54 Another common theme related to engagement and consultation. A number of organisations said that their engagement and consultation approaches had been very effective and had helped to ensure buy-in across their organisations or within their communities. In particular, a few of these organisations had worked with established equalities groups to engage with key stakeholders.

"We didn't have to build new relationships."

(Local Government)

2.55 Organisations also commented that sharing practice with other organisations was extremely helpful. A number of NHS Boards highlighted the value of a shared approach across the NHS, as this had helped to pool resources. Others highlighted the benefits of working within informal peer groups. Whilst some underlined the usefulness of the workshops and the guidance produced by the EHRC, some respondents felt that this was sometimes a bit too general. Others commented that they were grateful for the encouragement and support that they had received from EHRC, as this had helped them to meet their duties.

"They [EHRC] were very helpful and practical and importantly non-judgmental. It was clear that they wanted to help to make sure that you got it right."

(Education Body)

2.56 Finally, a few organisations noted that a particular success factor had been managing to align equality outcomes with existing plans, strategies and performance structures to ensure that equality was being mainstreamed and not seen as an "add on".

Key barriers and challenges

2.57 We asked authorities to identify the key barriers or challenges that they faced when developing their equality outcomes. The main issues highlighted related to evidence; engagement; measurement, guidance; terminology; alignment with existing priorities; and timing of the requirement to produce equality outcomes.

Lack of robust evidence base

2.58 As highlighted earlier, there were concerns across stakeholders about the quality of evidence base available. Some said that this made it difficult to develop baseline information to inform the development of the outcomes. A few had tried to address this by working closely with their partners to share information and also to commission joint research. Others highlighted the importance of collaborating with others to exchange and share information.

"There is an opportunity to be more co-ordinated in how we do research and how this contributes to the development of the evolution of outcomes."

(Local Government)

"The guidance suggested that we needed targets and goals, but we didn't have the evidence or baseline information. It was difficult to be SMART."

(Other Body)

Engaging with the right people

2.59 A number of respondents had found it difficult getting to "the right people". Others said that there were a lot of sensitivities to manage around engagement with some equality groups. This was particularly an issue for some of the smaller bodies with limited resources. One respondent suggested that it would be good to have "accredited" umbrella groups, for example, like the Council for Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations that could be used to enable more effective engagement with truly representative groups.

"The voice of the ethnic community was very poor, with low engagement from the Multicultural Association."

(Local Government)

Measuring progress and benchmarking

2.60 There was agreement across many stakeholders that the lack of a consistent approach to the development of outcomes and outcome measures meant that it would be difficult to get an overall picture of how authorities were progressing in relation to the duties. This issue was particularly highlighted by local authorities. Some felt that it would be difficult to undertake any benchmark comparisons within groups of public authorities.

2.61 Other stakeholders, across all groupings, commented that measuring progress towards achieving equality outcomes was a challenge. Many highlighted the lack of baseline data available, making it difficult to set targets and indicators. Some had deliberately developed outcomes without targets, as they were not able to establish a baseline. Others had introduced new indicators which they had never used before, and were unsure of how effective these would be.

"If we have more baseline information and evidence it will be easier to review and report, and make our outcomes more meaningful."

(Other Body)

"It is hard to put a number on things and to measure the intangible benefits."

(Other Body)

Lack of clear guidance

2.62 Similarly, a number of authorities commented that the guidance that had been provided by the EHRC in relation to outcomes was not clear enough. Some stated that it should have been more comprehensive and have included examples of good practice. Many said that templates would have been useful to ensure greater consistency in the approach being taken across all public authorities. Others commented that guidance should have been issued much earlier to give public authorities a bit of a "head start".

"The guidance from the EHRC was pretty poor, particularly for non service delivery organisations."

(NHS Board)

"The EHRC gives some information, but leaves it up to you to develop your templates - it is difficult to know where to start and how much detail is required."

(Other Body)


2.63 Some authorities commented that many people still struggled to understand the language and terms used in relation to equalities and that it had taken a lot of time to build knowledge and awareness of the "equalities terminology".

Alignment with existing priorities

2.64 A few respondents had experienced resistance within their organisations trying to align the equality outcomes within existing performance management systems and would therefore have appreciated guidance on how to do this effectively. Many commented that this was the way to ensure that the equality outcomes were mainstreamed, particularly in a climate of financial constraint, where activities would have to be delivered within existing (or reducing) budgets.

"People do not have time to take on additional tasks when their workloads are continuing to increase due to staff cuts."

(Other Body)


2.65 Some authorities going through a merger process during 2012/13 said that timing was a significant issue as their organisations were going through a period of organisational change at the time the work to meet the duties was being developed. They felt that this posed a number of challenges, both in terms of the coordination of information and evidence, and also in securing the necessary approvals during a period of significant upheaval and transition.


2.66 We asked authorities to give a broad indication of the resources that their organisations had dedicated towards producing equality outcomes.

2.67 For many it was difficult to quantify the actual resources involved in producing the equality outcomes. For those who were able to provide a view on this, some said that it was very resource intensive particularly during the consultation and publication phases. Some said that they had not formally logged the resource time involved, but would do this the next time. A minority commented specifically that it was now more time intensive to meet equalities duties than before the Equality Act 2010 was introduced.

"Meeting the new duties was more resource intensive than meeting the previous duties."

(Other Body)

2.68 As an illustration, one local authority representative said it took one individual about eight months of staff time to develop the outcomes over an 18 month period, in addition to contributions made from other staff members (the equivalent of approximately 6 weeks of staff time) and service leads (12 weeks of staff time). Another respondent commented that it was a full time job from August 2012 until April 2013.

2.69 Looking ahead, a few local authorities commented that more resources would be required to deliver the outcomes. One local authority said that it had already designated additional temporary posts to support the mainstreaming of equalities within the council.

"More work is now required to break down into more manageable chunks, how the individual outcomes will be delivered and what the council needs to do to deliver this."

(Local Government)

2.70 NHS Boards provided a range of views on this issue. Many of the territorial boards and a few of the special boards said that the exercise was time consuming, particularly in the lead up to the reporting deadline. Some of these boards provided time estimates ranging from three to eight months of staff time, over a 12 month period, to produce the mainstreaming report and equality outcomes. Many added that this work had to be undertaken within existing budgets - and some were concerned that other areas of work suffered due to the need to prioritise work on developing equality outcomes.

2.71 A small number of organisations had employed external consultants to help take forward some of the work required to meet the duties, for example organising focus groups and involvement events or managing consultation exercises.

2.72 Many of the education bodies commented that the work was being undertaken at the same time as college mergers were happening and that as a result staff resources were already under considerable pressure. Education bodies with small staff teams found it particularly difficult to balance the resources required to produce equality outcomes with their ongoing workloads.

"It took up a lot of resources, especially for smaller organisations."

(Education Body)

2.73 A few other service delivery bodies made similar comments, stating that the equalities work came at a time of significant organisational change and this may have affected people's views on it.

2.74 Others commented that it was "very time consuming", "resource intensive" and took people away from their "day jobs". Some commented that engagement was particularly time consuming. This pressure on resources applied to both small organisations and very large national organisations.

"I was asked to do this in time I didn't have - so it meant a lot of evening and weekend work."

(Other Body)

"This work has come at a time when staff resources have been cut and resources to cover existing priorities are already limited, without taking on the additional tasks associated with the equalities duties."

(Other Body)

Impact of equality outcomes

2.75 Authorities were asked if they were aware of any early changes that had resulted from the development of their outcomes. They were also asked to consider what the long-term benefits might be from the steps they had taken to meet the duties.

Early changes

2.76 In terms of early changes, many felt that it was too soon to say. However, some authorities did feel that some change had already begun to take place.

2.77 There was strong agreement that the development of equality outcomes had helped to increase awareness of equalities within organisations. Some stated that it had successfully raised the profile of equalities and staff were more confident dealing with equalities issues.

"Within the council the profile is higher, especially in business departments."

(Local Government)

"It has created lots of healthy dialogue and discussion around data and how it can be used."

(Local Government)

"People are more informed and prepared to talk about protected characteristics."

(Education Body)

"The recent work to publish the mainstreaming report and equality outcomes has helped to push equalities higher up the agenda."

(Education Body)

Example: Early change as a result of equality outcomes

The equality advisor for East Dunbartonshire Council felt that consultation carried out with community and equality groups as part of the process of developing equality outcomes had allowed the organisation to better meet the equality duties.

Where the council did not have relationships with existing local groups representing a particular equalities strand (sexual orientation and gender reassignment), these were forged through national interest organisations. Through the process of consultation a need for further work to enhance the Council's support to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups was identified. This was selected as a priority issue on which to focus.

The equality advisor suggested that work in relation to the LGBT agenda was now more of a priority because of the work around setting and delivering on equality outcomes. As a result of this work, an LGBT focused community project has been planned for 2014. Work to build relationships with local LGBT groups is underway and the equality advisor felt that this has improved because of the legal requirements now in place.

"We would not have done this in such a targeted way before the outcomes."

2.78 Some authorities highlighted particular actions that were being taken to tackle identified inequalities. For example, some education bodies referred to the development of outcomes and supporting actions to advance women's careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine and Maths linked to the Athena Swan Charter being promoted by the Equality Challenge Unit.

Example: Early change as a result of equality outcomes

The HR manager for North Highland College described an early success resulting from work carried out to meet the equality duties. The college has a Modern Apprenticeship scheme in engineering and a related equality outcome was developed.

"Outcome 8: Employment - To increase the ratio of female Modern Engineering Apprentices by an additional one student each year."

To achieve this, the college introduced a new approach to ensure that female applicants are guaranteed an interview, providing they meet the minimum selection. This "Guaranteed Interview Scheme" has directly led to the recruitment of two female engineering apprentices from a total intake of eight. Longer term, the college may use the impact assessment evidence of this outcome to smooth the way for the introduction of similar, appropriate approaches to other areas in the college.

2.79 A number of respondents said that as a result of developing equality outcomes, their approach to equality was more aligned to their strategic objectives. Some had managed to align their equality outcomes with their strategic plans and service delivery plans. Others felt that the focus was now on how to mainstream equalities.

"There will be a shift from outcomes to mainstreaming."

(NHS Board)

2.80 However, one NHS respondent cautioned that until equalities was embedded in the planning process, there was still a danger that it was "still about box ticking".

Example: Early change as a result of equality outcomes

The head of staff governance for Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS stated that work around the equality duties had placed equality issues higher on the organisational agenda. While significant amounts of work was involved in taking steps to meet the duties, greater awareness of the equality agenda had been created.

Linked to this work, two anti-discrimination campaigns have been launched. Taking a Stand focuses on sexual orientation in the workplace, taking a zero tolerance approach to homophobia. Releasing Potential focuses on disability rights and is designed to tackle employee reluctance towards declaring disabilities in the workplace.

"We have been doing work around equalities anyway, but there is no doubt that [due to the duties] these campaigns have moved forward more quickly and been given added impetus."

Long term benefits

2.81 Most authorities felt that the development of equality outcomes would result in long term benefits. Some made high-level statements where they hoped that it would result in "better outcomes for people" or "an improvement in people's quality of life". Others stated that they felt that it would lead to a "better informed" and "more tolerant" society.

"It will help to focus activities around equalities initiatives that are targeted at making a difference to the life chances of our service users."

(Other Body)

"People's quality of life should be improved through their involvement and engagement."

(Local Government)

2.82 Many of the authorities believed that the production of equality outcomes would lead to equalities becoming embedded or mainstreamed within their organisations. Some said that the development of equality outcomes had already helped to improve awareness and should continue to raise the profile of equalities both internally and externally. However for some, the challenge still remained as to how to mainstream equalities. A few felt that this would require a significant culture shift.

"I hope that one of the long-term benefits will be improved understanding, thinking and application, as a result of the way that we have done things."

(Education Body)

"We have got used to embedding equality in management and operational plans, so equality should become part of our everyday systems."

(Other Body)

"People will have a better understanding of what will make a difference - rather than ad hoc action plans."

(Local Government)

2.83 However a few cautioned that there would need to be funding to support the delivery of actions associated with their equality outcomes, otherwise there would be no significant change. Others questioned whether there was likely to be any change as a result.

"It was a mad dash to get the report and outcomes published by the deadline. There was a feeling within the organisation that that was the job done for the next four years."

(Education Body)

2.84 A few respondents suggested that the development of equality outcomes should help to make the approach to equalities more tangible and practical through making it possible to measure and track the difference that is being made to people's lives.

"We need to be able to demonstrate and evidence that the outcomes have done what they said they would."

(Local Government)


2.85 A number of authorities said that they would probably adopt a similar approach to developing equality outcomes the next time round. Although a few commented that they would build in a longer lead-time to ensure that they had enough time to get everything done.

2.86 Others would try to get more support from across their organisations, for example, by securing buy-in from senior managers; enlisting "equality champions" from different parts of their organisations, or simply by getting a dedicated resource to take forward the work.

2.87 Some commented that they would like to allow more time for detailed consultation whether with their own staff or with external stakeholders. Others said that they would seek to improve their evidence base and to gather more qualitative information.

2.88 A small number of authorities noted that they would want to ensure that there was a clearer link between equality outcomes and existing plans and strategies. In one case, a local authority hoped that the exercise would become part of existing plans, rather than involving the production of a separate mainstreaming report. Whilst others talked about working more collaboratively with key partners locally and potentially developing shared outcomes.

"I'd like to think that we will be more mainstreamed and more ready to go."

(Education Body)

"There will be a much more structured approach going forward."

(Local Government)

2.89 A few authorities commented that they would want to take time to review how things had gone and then decide whether they needed to adapt or change their approach in future. One local authority said that they would like to get a sense of "good practice" from across other public authorities and use this to inform whether there were better ways of doing things the next time.

2.90 Finally, one local authority suggested that they would probably publish less outcomes in future, rather than "trying to be everything to everyone". It was felt that having three or four focused outcomes, would allow more progress and real impact to be made.

Summary of chapter two

2.91 The vast majority of the larger authorities had a dedicated equalities lead that produced the equality outcomes. The smaller authorities generally did not have a dedicated equality lead and their outcomes were produced by someone who undertook the work alongside their existing workload.

2.92 Most authorities adopted a similar strategy when developing outcomes. Generally an analysis of existing information and evidence was carried out, which highlighted equality-related gaps. Based on these gaps, priorities for action were identified and used as a base for producing the outcomes.

2.93 In terms of the sources of information consulted, most used a mix of external and internal sources. External sources included Scottish Government data, community planning data and information provided by some equalities organisations. Internal sources included staff monitoring surveys.

2.94 Most of the authorities consulted a wide range of stakeholders in the production of their equality outcomes. These stakeholders varied between organisations but in the main, authorities tried to involve as many relevant people as possible. Some authorities, particularly local authorities and NHS Boards, also worked with local networks, such as community planning partners and with national networks at workshops arranged by the Scottish Government, the EHRC and COSLA. Education bodies often consulted only with their current staff and student body, seeing this as their community.

2.95 Almost all organisations cited knowing where to start as the main challenge in developing their outcomes. In addition, the following limitations were mentioned:

  • lack of a robust evidence base;
  • engaging with the right people;
  • measuring progress and benchmarking - local authorities and NHS Boards were particularly interested in this area;
  • lack of clear guidance;
  • language and jargon around equalities issues; and
  • timing - particularly for organisations going through a merger process at the time.

2.96 In terms of resources, most authorities said it was difficult to quantify exact resources. Most that did provide an estimate agreed that the process was resource intensive, particularly during the consultation and publication process. Both large and small organisations across all sectors indicated that the production of equality outcomes involved significant resources, often putting pressures on staff workloads.

2.97 Most authorities, across all sectors, were in agreement that the development of equality outcomes would result in three key long term benefits:

  • increased awareness of equality;
  • practical action to promote equality; and
  • better integration, with equality and diversity now viewed as normal practice.


Email: Alison Stout

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