Promising Practice

Diversity Barometers

Baromètres de la diversité
Since 2012, the Belgian Equality Body Unia regularly releases diversity barometers to support evidence-based policies tackling discrimination and inequalities. Drawing on a range of data sources, the different editions of the barometer picture the state of equality in three key areas of life: employment (2012), housing (2014) and education (2018).
Institutional and structural guidelines
Facilitate effective use
Operational guidelines
Ensure comprehensiveness
Gender identity
Racial or ethnic origin
Religion or belief
Sexual orientation
All grounds / Cross-cutting
Includes multiple / intersectional discrimination

Promising practice :

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Why was the practice needed?

The Belgian Equality Body, Unia, developed the Diversity Barometer to support an evidence-based approach to tackling discrimination and inequalities, according to its Triennial Strategic Plan 2011-2013.

It aims to collect and disseminate data and analysis to inform public authorities on the prevalence and complexity of discrimination so that it can be tackled more effectively.

How was it implemented?

The grounds of discrimination surveyed by the barometer are ethnic origin, nationality, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief and socio-economic status.

A feasibility study set out the theoretical framework. It was then decided to follow an integrated approach, combining three different dimensions of discrimination. Each was analysed using a specific methodology:

  1. the degree of tolerance involved in attitudes toward certain groups or themes, measured through surveys;
  2. discriminatory behaviour, measured through aggregate situation testing;
  3. level of participation, measured through administrative databases.

Measuring attitudes assesses the distance/proximity between different groups of people surveyed, according to protected characteristics.

Aggregate situation tests measure the extent of discrimination at a given time and in a given sector, such as access to employment or to rental housing.

Statistical analysis of administrative data can provide additional information on the social status and participation of these groups in different areas of life: employment, housing, or education.

For example, for education, researchers draw data from Department of Education records, which contain information about students’ nationality, language, scholastic achievements and other variables. The participation of groups is measured in terms of their distribution over different types (general, technical, vocational) and levels of education. This is followed by an analysis of the possible causes for this distribution.

All variables surveyed by the barometers are disaggregated by gender. In addition, the education barometer analyses the intersections of socio-economic status and ethnicity.


Periodical reports focusing a different sector each time. After the release of reports on employment (2012), housing (2014) and education (2018), a new cycle will start.

Key success factors

  • Combining different dimensions of discrimination and inequality is key to providing a comprehensive picture of the situation. However, it is also true that specific groups face specific problems.
  • These problems cannot always be assessed by the barometer. Therefore, this approach needs to be complemented with more targeted research.
  • It is important to have a strategic vision to ensure the findings feed timely into policymaking and public debates.

Technical information

  • Data sources covered: Census; Administrative data; Victimisation surveys; Attitudinal surveys; Discrimination testing; Qualitative research
  • Areas of life covered: Employment; Education; Housing and living conditions
  • Target audience: Policymakers, social partners and civil society organisations, general population
  • Duration: 2012 – ongoing
  • Geographical scope: National
  • Leading institution: Unia (Equality Body) / Unia (organisme de promotion de l’égalité)
  • Other organisations involved/consulted: Different Belgian universities and research centres, depending on the topic; market research firms. Depending on the topic, exploratory consultations also took place and focus groups with actors were organised as part of the research.
  • Financial & human resources: Budget: €400,000; Source of the budget: State and Unia; Staff: 2 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) /2 years (Unia) + 4 FTE/2 years (researchers)



Email: info (at) unia (dot) be