In February 2018, the EU High Level Group on Non-discrimination, Equality and Diversity set up the Subgroup on Equality Data to help Member States improve the collection and use of equality data. The European Commission asked FRA to facilitate the work of this Subgroup.
Equality data is defined as any piece of information that is useful for the purposes of describing and analysing the state of equality. The information may be quantitative or qualitative in nature. It could include aggregate data that reflect inequalities or their causes or effects in society. Sometimes data that are collected primarily for reasons other than equality-related purposes can be used for producing equality data. Sources of equality data include population censuses, administrative registers, household and individual surveys, victimisation surveys, attitudinal surveys (self-report surveys), complaints data, discrimination testing, diversity monitoring by employers and service providers, as well as qualitative research strategies such as case studies, in-depth and expert interviews (see European Handbook on Equality Data – 2016 Revision).
The Subgroup on Equality Data is made up of representatives from EU Member States and Norway, the European Commission, Eurostat and FRA. Member States representatives are experts from governmental departments dealing with non-discrimination policies, national statistical institutes and equality bodies.
It provides a forum for relevant national authorities and EU institutions, to discuss challenges and opportunities in improving the collection and use of equality data.
The EU has an advanced legal framework to promote equality and non-discrimination. All EU Member States have transposed this framework into national law. However, many people in the EU continue to experience discrimination, inequality and social exclusion in their everyday life – across a range of different grounds – as FRA’s research and survey findings consistently show.
Equality data are crucially important when assessing the effective implementation of legislation and policies that promote equality and non-discrimination. They are indispensable for monitoring and measuring progress on the ground. They are also a powerful tool in the fight against discrimination and exclusion.
Nevertheless, there are still gaps and shortcomings in the way Member States collect and use equality data, including the lack of a systematic approach to data collection. The level of awareness about what equality data are and how they monitor progress on the ground varies strongly among Member States, as well as among data providers and data users.
The Subgroup has met in April, June and December 2018 and in March 2019. It combines thematic discussions on topics of common interest related to equality data, the exchange of practices and new developments in EU Member States and Norway. It works on specific outputs to improve the collection and use of equality data.
The work on the three outputs (guidelines, compendium, diagnostic mapping tool) included several rounds of discussions based on drafting proposals, as well as written comments from Member States. This helped reach consensus and ensured that they met the needs of Member States.
The guidelines were finalised by the subgroup in July 2018 and endorsed by the High Level Group on Non-Discrimination, Equality and Diversity in October 2018. The two complementary tools, the compendium of practices and the diagnostic mapping tool, were launched at the meeting of the High Level Group in March 2019.
In March 2019, the Subgroup reinforced its capacity building component by carrying out a country visit to the United Kingdom, a country with advanced structures and instruments in place to collect and use equality data. This offered members of the Subgroup - and of the High Level Group - the opportunity to get a deeper understanding of how different institutions in this country collect and use equality data, and of how institutions work and cooperate with each other to achieve this goal. It also allowed for an exchange of practical knowledge as to how to implement the guidelines on improving the collection and use of equality data. Consultations about a possible second country visit to be carried out in 2019 are ongoing.