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Monitoring Equality and Diversity

Why we ask for personal information

What is Equality and Diversity monitoring?

 “Equality and Diversity monitoring” is the name given to personal information we collect about the people who use our services or work for us.

Wherever you go, people want to know your business. Your age, gender, sexuality, race, religion, whether you’re disabled…Where does all this information go?

It goes to help to make things better.

It tells local authorities where to direct their services; it shows us if certain people aren’t making the most of them; and it makes sure that you get the right slice of what you’re paying for.

We can’t change things without your help.

What information do we ask for on our diversity monitoring form?

We’re all told to watch who we give our personal information to, due to identity theft. But when you give information about yourself to us, you can be sure that it will only be used to make things better. In fact we usually won’t even know it’s you.

Our full equality and diversity monitoring form asks for seven pieces of information. They are:

  1. Gender
  2. Age
  3. Disability
  4. Sexual Orientation
  5. Religion or Belief
  6. National Identity
  7. Ethnicity

Yes, occasionally you may fill in a form with your name and address. But the section with information about age, race, sexuality etc. is almost always dealt with separately.

Your personal information is about you – the rest is statistics. And if you are an employee and we keep it on file, it will only ever be to make sure that you as a white/black, older/young, married/single, straight/gay, man/woman are being properly catered for. 

Why do we need this information?

There are a number of reasons why we need personal information from you:

1. We have a legal and a moral duty to eliminate all forms of discrimination when employing people and when delivering services.

However it is hard to measure whether we are discriminating against a certain group of people, unless we monitor who we are employing and who uses our services.

For example, we might discover through our monitoring that we interview and employ very few gay and lesbian people. We can then encourage more people from this community to apply for jobs by thinking carefully about the way in which we recruit for certain posts, and where we advertise jobs.

2. We are committed to delivering excellent services, but we can only do this if we understand who our customers are and what particular needs they have.

For example, we might discover through our monitoring that very few young people use our leisure services. We can then look more closely at how leisure services work, their timing and the kind of services they offer, and change things to make it more attractive for young people. Or, if there are lots of older people in an area, perhaps more Dial-a-Ride services are needed. People from certain groups have particular health needs: there are higher rates of breast cancer among lesbians, for instance, so provision has to be made. Perhaps your first language is not English and you would prefer information leaflets in your own language.

You can now see why we need to know.

Do you have to answer the questions?

No, you don’t have to answer any question if you prefer not to. However as the results will be kept strictly confidential, and it may help us to improve our services, we would encourage you to answer as many questions as possible.

Why do we need to know what kind of disability or illness you have?

Along with most other Local Authorities, we have adopted the “Social Model of Disability” which means that we recognise that social barriers are what disable people, not their impairment. Sometimes, however, we will ask specifically about your impairment. This is because, in practical terms it helps us to know about our customers’ impairments so that we can design our services according to your needs, and remove as many barriers as possible.

For example, we might discover through monitoring that a lot of people with a learning disability use the swimming pool. We can then ensure that all swimming pool information is produced in easy-read or symbol versions. 

How have the ethnicity categories been decided upon?

The six main ethnicity categories we have used are those used in the 2001 Census. This makes it easier for us to analyse information. Additional sub-categories such as “Traveller” or “Romany/Gypsy” have been included as a result of past research in Worcestershire about how people like to describe themselves. You can mark more than one box in this section if you want to.

What will we do with the information?

The information will only be used to monitor services and employment. It will not be used to identify you, and no one will contact you because of the answers you give.

All the information will be stored securely in line with the Data Protection Act 1998. Your answers will only be retained for as long as is considered necessary for monitoring purposes and then they will be destroyed.

Wyre Forest District Council