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Positive and negative impacts

Responding to negative and positive outcomes highlighted by the equality impact assessment

An EIA should help to identify both positive and negative outcomes and can help ascertain where outcomes can be prevented or justified within the permits of the law or where the impact is positive, extended to other protected groups.

For example, an analysis of a mock exercise shows that the majority of eligible female staff were selected within chemistry (where women are underrepresented). The percentage of female staff selection was higher than for other units of assessment. Using this data, the institution explores whether there are barriers to women's selection for other units of assessment and if anything different occurred within chemistry that can be applied to other units of assessment and to other protected groups.

Where a particular policy or procedure is found to have a negative impact on a protected group, HEIs are required to explore alternative procedures and ensure that there are no other steps that can be taken to mitigate the impact. For example, if disabled staff are underrepresented in the submission, can the policy be changed to ensure that more disabled staff are selected?

If a policy cannot be changed HEIs can still consider actions to support staff during the remainder of the census period with the ultimate aim of increasing staff selected from particular protected groups. For example, would mentoring be of benefit or could additional support be provided for attendance at conferences or on return from maternity leave?

Where changes are made to the proposed policy or procedures, affected groups will need to be engaged to ensure that the changes are fit for purpose. If changes cannot be made to the policy, the decision to proceed will need to be justified within the permits of the law.

HEIs should record any steps that have been taken to change the policy or mitigate the impact to ensure that any negative impact does not constitute unlawful discrimination and can be justified to a third party. The justification for decisions, as well as any actions that will be taken to mitigate impact, would need to be recorded in the EIA report, which an assist HEIs in ensuring that actions are implemented. This evidence will be needed if a legal challenge is made.

Further information

The Equality Act 2010 statutory codes of practice contain information on what constitutes unlawful discrimination in England, Scotland and Wales.

ECU has written a summary of anti discrimination law in Northern Ireland which includes further sources of information.