Webinar on Equality Impact Assessments in REF 2021
Webinar on Equality Impact Assessments in REF 2021 Professor Dianne Berry OBE, Chair of EDAP Dr Catriona Firth, Head of REF Policy February 2019 Follow us on Twitter @REF_2021 Email us: [email protected] Overview What is an EIA?
Why are EIAs required by the funding bodies? What makes a good EIA? EIAs and codes of practice Engagement with staff from protected groups Positive and negative impacts Reporting EIA findings Good practice from REF 2014 What is an EIA? The Guidance on codes of practice for REF 2021 defines an EIA as follows: An EIA should be a thorough and systematic analysis to determine whether the institutions processes for identifying staff, determining research independence and output selection
for the REF may have a differential impact on particular groups by reference to one or more protected characteristic(s). Essentially, EIAs are planning tools that enable HEIs to build equality into their mainstream mechanisms of policy-making, including change management proposals and processes. Why are EIAs required? HEIs must conduct EIAs on their policy and procedures for: identifying staff with significant responsibility for research (where applicable), determining research independence selecting outputs for the REF. HEIs should publish the final EIAs after submissions have been made, as a matter
of good practice. Should also include the outcomes of any actions taken to prevent discrimination or advance equality. Publication is a legal requirement in Northern Ireland and in Wales where a policy or practice is regarded as having a significant impact. Funding bodies and EDAP will use the EIAs to assist with evaluating the overall effectiveness of the equality and diversity aspects of the REF at sector level, and lessons learned for the future. EDAP will not formally assess or comment on individual institutions EIAs. What makes a good EIA? An effective EIA should involve a meaningful assessment of the impact a policy or practice may have from an equality perspective. If an EIA does not involve proper consideration
of the relevant evidence and data available and if it does not involve genuine reflection on possible ways to mitigate negative impacts the policy or practice in question may have on equality, then it is unlikely to stand up under scrutiny. Not a tick-box exercise! Should be a living document. What makes a good EIA? When? EIAs should be conducted at the outset of policy and procedure development. Mock exercises can be used to inform your institutions EIA and the EIA itself should inform the code of practice. EIA should be reviewed at key stages of the selection process.
Who? Responsibility should not rest solely with an individual. A range of skills is needed to conduct EIAs and so a team with the following qualities is best placed to fulfil this function: knowledge and understanding of the policy to be impact assessed knowledge and understanding of equality an ability to be objective about the policy an ability to analyse both qualitative and quantitative data Carrying out an EIA AdvanceHE offers guidance on how to carry out an EIA through these steps: 1. Consider relevant evidence relating to people who share a protected characteristic
2. Assess the impact of applying a decision of a new or revised policy or practice 3. Act on the results of the assessment 4. Publish the results of the assessment 5. Monitor and review the decision/ application of the policy or procedure https ://www.ecu.ac.uk/publications/building-capacity-for-equality-impact-asses sment-in-colleges-handbook-for-trainers Engaging with staff The funding bodies recognise that it is best practice to use information gained from engaging, consulting or involving staff from protected groups to inform an EIA. (Consultation is a requirement of section 75 of the
Northern Ireland Act 1998 and engagement is a requirement of the Welsh specific duties of the Equality Act 2010. Engagement is also key to showing due regard to the requirements of the public sector equality duty in England and Scotland.) Engagement with staff from protected groups 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. In the context of the REF engagement could involve: seeking feedback from staff from protected groups on their experiences of any mock exercises that are conducted.
consulting with staff networks on the proposed policy and procedures involving staff representatives in policy and procedure formulation What data should be considered? EIAs should be informed by an analysis of data in respect of all the protected characteristics for which data are available, including: data on the characteristics of staff considered to meet the criteria for having significant responsibility for research in the context of all staff who are eligible for submission, and all academic staff. data on the characteristics of staff who meet the definition of an independent researcher, in the context of an appropriate comparator pool for junior academic staff (as appropriate to the
institutions context). data on the distribution of selected outputs across staff, by protected characteristic, in the context of the characteristics of the submitted staff pool. Assessing impact and acting on it EIAs should enable HEIs to identify: where discrimination may inadvertently occur within their REF processes where a particular policy or practice has a positive impact on the advancement of equality where there is an opportunity to take a step that will have a positive impact. Where potential discrimination is identified HEIs will need to reassure themselves that the policy or practice operates within the constraints
of the law OR take actions to change the policy or practice. If a particular policy or practice is found to have a positive impact on equality, HEIs can seek to apply it to other areas of their REF work. If an opportunity to advance equality is identified due consideration should be given to implementing it. If a policy cannot be changed, HEIs can still consider actions to support staff during the remainder of the census period e.g. mentoring or additional support for attendance at conferences Example output selection Scenario: Initial EIA reveals that 90% of outputs selected are attributed to men in unit where 50% of staff pool is female Next steps:
Explore potential reasons for underrepresentation e.g. is there potential for gender bias in the selection criteria? How are staff from protected groups involved in selection decisions? Where appropriate, explore alternative procedures e.g. creating different selection panel or adjusting selection criteria. Review outcomes of revised procedures HEIs are not required to submit selection of outputs that matches proportions of staff in eligible output pool BUT must demonstrate that processes and policies have been developed with consideration for equality What to include in the COP? The code of practice should clearly set out information about the findings of EIAs with respect to each part of the code, and how the analysis informed, or
will inform, the final policy and procedures documented in the code. Any completed EIAs may be included in the appendices of the code of practice. In relation to REF procedures, a final EIA report would normally be expected to include: an analysis of the potential impact of the proposals based on staff data and information gathered during mock exercises and engagement with staff in relation to the protected characteristics. the steps that will be taken to change potentially discriminatory proposals, mitigate their impact or justify them where the law permits Where a positive impact, consideration as to whether the positive impact could be extended to other groups and UOAs an action plan, setting out the actions that will be taken to minimise the risk of negative impact on particular protected groups including clear lead responsibilities for implementation, agreed timescales and arrangements for ongoing monitoring and review of
the action plan. When should EIAs be reviewed? Examples of appropriate points to review the EIA are: when identifying staff with a significant responsibility for research when determining research independence when selecting outputs for submission when considering appeals against identification of staff who do not have significant responsibility for research or who are not
independent researchers when preparing the final submission. Institutions may wish to conduct more than one EIA for example on each policy or procedure that is covered by the code of practice. Good practice from REF 2014 There were positive elements to a large number of EIAs, in particular: EIAs that reflected the Codes as living documents and linked to future actions and anticipated impact clear and meaningful contextual information alongside the data analysis analysis that combined relevant staff characteristics (e.g. age and
gender) clear and meaningful conclusions drawn from the analysis, linked to appropriate actions and commitments for improvement EIAs with clear contributions from HR and/or equality representatives as well as those who had been involved in REF processes EDAP were impressed with HEIs which recognised, and made proactive efforts to address, inequalities in staff selection rather than accepting them as a sector issue. Live webinar The live webinar will take place at 12 noon on Wednesday 13 February. Visit https://www.ref.ac.uk/events/codes-of-practice-and-staff-circu
mstances-webinars/ for further details and to register to attend. We are inviting questions in advance on codes of practice, staff circumstances and EIAs. Please submit your questions by 10 February at https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/refcopwebinar/. Codes of practice workshops Places are still available at events in Birmingham (18 February) and Glasgow (25 February). Visit https://www.ref.ac.uk/events/codes-of-practice-workshops-f ebruary-2019 / for further information and to register to attend.
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