Collecting and publishing equality data

March 11, 2022 by No Comments | Category Social Justice

I’m Dan Craig, an assistant statistician in the Equality Analysis Team within the Scottish Government. In this blog, I talk about a key project within our Equality Data Improvement Programme (EDIP) – updating our guidance for the collection of equality data. The EDIP a multi-phase programme of work that aims to strengthen Scotland’s equality evidence base, please see our previous blog  for more information.

Over the past few months the team has been busy refreshing our guidance on asking questions on the protected characteristics of age, disability, ethnic group, religion/belief, and sexual orientation. This follows the publication of Chief Statistician’s guidance for public bodies on the collection and publication of data relating to sex, gender and trans status in September last year.

Robust equality statistics are central to monitoring discrimination and inequality, especially for those with rights to protection from discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. The guidance notes aim to promote consistency in the collection of equality information, ensuring that data collectors are using best practice when gathering and using equality evidence. The guidance reflects the Scottish Government’s recommended approach and we are encouraging data collectors across the Scottish public sector to follow it. Doing so has advantages to ensuring harmonisation in the collection of equality data across Scotland.

Our updates ensure that the new guidance notes, which refresh those previously published in May 2012, respond to user feedback and use the most up-to-date language and methodology. In collaboration with the Office for National Statistics, National Records of Scotland, Disabled People’s Organisations and policy colleagues, we have made a number of updates including ensuring that the recommended response options align with the relevant questions in Scotland’s Census 2022 and the GSS harmonised standards. We have also provided clarifications on the inclusion of “prefer not to say” response options, increased consistency between the guidance notes, and streamlined questions previously recommended for different survey formats.

You can access the updated guidance notes here.

If you are interested in how other public sector organisations are collecting equality data, you may find our good practice case studies helpful.

We hope the updated guidance notes will provide a valuable resource. If you have any questions or feedback please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at

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