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Updated ECU equality monitoring guidance

ECU has published updated guidance on equality monitoring, and revised recommended monitoring questions.

Following ECU advice and consultation with the sector, HESA has made changes to data collection for the 2017/18 staff and student records as part of their annual updates, and ECU’s new guidance on equality monitoring, and revised recommended monitoring questions takes account of these changes, as well as expanding on HESA requirements to keep up with developments in good practice around equality monitoring.

HESA changes are to the ‘sex’ field for staff (this field was previously called ‘legal sex’) as well as a new recommended question for gender reassignment (this field was previously called ‘gender identity’), drawing on ECU’s trans guidance.

Like the student field, the sex field for staff now includes an ‘other’ option, which will better cater for international staff from countries acknowledging a third category for sex as well as allowing people with a range of other gender identities to complete the question.

Other noteworthy changes at HESA are the welcome additions of  ‘hourly paid’ and ‘zero hour contract’ marker fields, which will better enable analysis of pay and contract differentials by equality areas among staff, and a move to collect equality data for university governors.

ECU’s expanded guidance includes:

  • new recommended question and response options for disability status, to better reflect both legal developments and the social model of disability
  • new recommended questions for pregnancy, maternity and other forms of leave
  • revised recommended question for monitoring religion and belief
  • addition of response options ‘asexual’ and ‘queer’ to sexual orientation monitoring
  • additional explanatory text for specific equality areas

Although not a requirement outside of Northern Ireland, ECU has also provided a recommended question for monitoring marriage and civil partnership; and although not a protected characteristic under the Equality Act, for caring responsibilities.

Equality monitoring is a complex and evolving area, so institutions are encouraged to review ECU guidance and their own monitoring questions and response options at regular intervals. For example, in the autumn the Office for National Statistics (ONS) will be publishing an updated position paper addressing gender identity, which we will take account of in our guidance, and developments leading to the 2021 Census in England and Wales are likely to lead to changes in ethnicity monitoring.

ECU also provides recommendations for future changes to equality monitoring to HESA and to other relevant sector bodies, as good practice develops. It is understood that more significant changes to HESA data collection based on ECU advice, for example on gender reassignment, may be possible in future.

More info is on the ECU monitoring questions webpage.

Ashlee Christoffersen
Researcher, ECU