Public Sector Equality Duty - operation review: consultation analysis

Independent analysis of consultation responses to the Scottish Government Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) Review. The consultation ran from 13 December 2021 to 11 April 2022.

11 Intersectional and Disaggregated Data Analysis

11.1 Context

There are several actions within the first phase of the Equality Data Improvement Programme that aim to improve the collection, analysis and use of intersectional equality data, including:

  • Producing a report to build knowledge of intersectionality among public sector analysts, covering what is meant by 'intersectionality', examples of how the concept of intersectionality has been used to identify and understand structural inequality, and statistical approaches to carrying out intersectional data analysis.
  • Systematically examining key population survey and administrative datasets to identify where intersectional data breakdowns are already published and where intersectional breakdowns could be provided, noting the protected characteristic variables collected and available sample size.
  • Producing a new equality dataset through the secure linkage of existing administrative and Census data, to support robust intersectional outcomes-based equality data analysis.
  • Commissioning independent research with people with lived experience of different and intersecting protected characteristics to explore response issues, to investigate data fears and to understand what positive messaging would help to reduce fears and encourage participation in surveys. The research findings will be used to develop guidance for public sector data collectors.

The Scottish Government believes that the Equality Data Improvement Programme can be a key driver in improving the collection and use of intersectional and disaggregated equality data across the public sector in Scotland.

11.2 Question 8.1a – Intersectional Data

The First Minister's National Advisory Council on Women and Girls called for the Scottish Government to place an additional duty on listed authorities to "gather and use intersectional data, including employment and service-user data, to advance equality between protected groups, including men and women". What are your views on this?

Most respondents answered Question 8.1a (90%).

11.2.1 Respondents who support the proposal

Most respondents support the proposal, however, there is significant minority who do not. The main themes to emerge from those who express support for the proposal relating to intersectional data is outlined below

Theme 1: Necessity of intersectional data

Equality advocacy groups consider the proposal important to help develop a better understanding of the multi-dimensional issues faced by individuals with more than one protected characteristic. There is, however, recognition among these respondents that there may be some resistance among listed authorities to this proposal due to the potential increased administrative burden.

Theme 2: Supporting implementation

Equality advocacy groups also consider it important that steps are taken by the Scottish Government to ensure listed authorities can comply with this proposal. Suggestions include:

  • Promotion of the benefits and value of gathering this data to listed authorities.
  • Encouraging staff and service users to disclose personal information.
  • Providing increased resources to listed authorities to support implementation.
  • Providing updated and improved guidance and support to listed authorities.

11.2.2 Respondents who identify issues or concerns

Whilst most respondents are supportive of the proposal, some do raise concerns with regards to its implementation.

Theme 1: Data protection issues

Some listed authorities and other organisations are concerned that the gathering of intersectional data may be challenging due to data protection issues. These respondents feel that the absolute numbers may be small and that there may be a risk of identifying individuals. This is a particular concern among smaller listed authorities.

Theme 2: Wider challenges in data gathering and reporting

A small number of respondents identify specific challenges in data gathering that may make presenting intersectional data difficult, including:

  • Some listed organisations are concerned that staff and service users may not feel comfortable sharing information relating to protected characteristics, and the implications this then has for service improvement.
  • Wider challenges raised include that information on services users in some cases is captured in a more narrative/qualitative format, that information is captured from various agencies in a non-standardised format, or challenges in gathering data from service users more generally.

11.2.3 Respondents who do not support the proposal

As noted above, a significant minority of respondents do not support the Scottish Government proposal relating to intersectional data.

Theme 1: Disproportionate administrative burden

A common response, primarily among listed authorities, but also among other organisations, is that the proposal could cause a disproportionate administrative burden on listed authorities. There is concern (mostly among listed authorities) that their organisation lacks the necessary capacity and resource to meet this requirement, and to gather, analyse and use intersectional data in any meaningful way.

Similarly, a few listed authorities feel that the proposal may also have a negative impact on third sector organisations who deliver services on their behalf. For example, smaller third sector organisations may also face resource and capacity constraints. It is suggested that these organisations may be disproportionally affected by the proposal, and that it could act as a barrier for them in tendering for the delivery of listed authority services.

11.3 Question 8.1b – Support Requirements

How could listed authorities be supported to meet this requirement?

Over three-quarters of respondents answered this question (79%), and two themes emerged regarding how listed authorities could be supported to gather and use intersectional data, and meet this requirement.

Theme 1: Guidance

A prevalent view among all respondents is that there needs to be clear and comprehensive guidance provided by the Scottish Government for listed authorities on how intersectional data should be collected, analysed, and used. This could help ensure a consistent approach to meeting the requirement. It is suggested that guidance documents would also need to cover issues including data protection and GDPR legislation.

Theme 2: Additional resource and support

Many respondents suggest that additional resources may be required to enable listed authorities to meet this new requirement. Financial resources, training/upskilling staff, and upgrading of IT equipment and processes are commonly mentioned in the consultation responses.

11.4 Question 8.2a – Confidence

If there was a requirement for your organisation to "gather and use intersectional data, including employment and service-user data, to advance equality between protected groups, including men and women", would you be confident your organisation could comply with it?

Question 8.2a was directed specifically to listed authorities. Over three-quarters of listed authorities reported that they are not confident that their organisation would be able to comply with the proposal relating to intersectional data.

Table 11.1: Confident that organisation could meet the requirement
Number Percentage
Yes 16 22.9%
No 54 77.1%

N=70. Excludes blank, not answered responses, and any responses not from a listed authority.

11.5 Question 8.2b – Yes, confident

The main reason provided by those listed authorities who report that they are confident their organisation would be able to comply with the proposal relating to intersectional data is that they already have a system and process in place or that it would be relatively easy to make modifications to it.

11.6 Question 8.2c – No, not confident

Listed authorities who report that they are not confident their organisation would be able to comply with the proposal relating to intersectional data, were asked what support they would need to ensure they could comply by 2025.

Theme 1: Similar response to Question 8.1b

The feedback from these listed authorities echoes points raised at Question 8.1b namely:

  • Financial support.
  • Training/upskilling staff.
  • Investment for IT equipment/updating processes.
  • Updated and improved guidance from the Scottish Government.



Back to top