There are five key stages to think about when completing an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA). Outlined below are each stage and their purpose. 

If you need more information about a stage of the EIA process, please email Imperial's Equality Diversity and Inclusion Centre for support.

The EIA process outline by stage

1. Gathering the evidence

The first stage is to gather data and information that will help you complete the EIA. You will need data broken down by certain groups or protected characteristics, for example age or sexual orientation.

For some changes or decisions, there may be little available evidence of the potential impact on different groups. In such cases, you should make a judgement that is as reliable as possible. A consultation (see stage 2) will help strengthen these value judgements by building a consensus that can avoid prejudices, assumptions, and unconscious biases.

2. Consultation and engagement

Consultation can help add further evidence and data to your EIA. Consultation is very important and can be key to demonstrating that, as an organisation, the College is meeting its Public Sector Duty under the Equality Act

The consultation should be proportionate and relevant. You need to avoid over-consultation on a small policy or practice, and to avoid under-consultation on a significant policy or an activity that has the potential to create barriers for a large number of people.  

To safeguard against 'group think', involve a diverse range of people in your consultation.

3. Identifying differences

EIAs involve making comparisons between groups of people, to identify differences in their needs and/or requirements. Your decision or change may have a detrimental impact on some and not others.

You need to carefully consider how your decision or change may impact on different groups. Remember, the purpose of an EIA is to make a transparent decision or change fairly, avoiding disadvantaging any group, and wherever possible, advancing equality, diversity and inclusion. 

As part of the process of identifying differences and potential impacts, you need to ask why and ensure you investigate appropriately. This will help you build a full understanding of the issues involved, and therefore be in a better position to develop actions to mitigate any negatives and maximise any positives.

4. Provisional assessment

At this stage, you may not have all the evidence you need, but you have enough to conduct a provisional assessment.

If you carry out a provisional assessment, you must have a plan to gather the further data required so that a full assessment can be completed after a reasonable time. The scale of these plans should be proportionate to the activity at hand.

Only when there is enough evidence should a full EIA should be prepared. Only one EIA should be created for each change or decision. As you gather more data or evidence, you can build upon your provisional assessment and create a final EIA. 

5. Evaluation and decision-making

The final EIA should evaluate the decision or change and its impacts, and decide which of the following options is most appropriate. 

  • Proceed with the decision or change. If your EIA has identified no detrimental impacts to any particular group, then it can continue as planned. 
  • Stop the decision or change. If your EIA has shown there are disproportionate differences and there will be unfair impacts on certain groups, you should decide to stop the decision or change at the appropriate point.
  • Adapt the decision or change. If your EIA has shown potential ways to mitigate identified impacts, then you should adapt or modify the original decision or change.
  • Proceed with caution. Your EIA may have identified impacts, but considering all the evidence and options carefully, there appear to be no other proportionate ways to achieve the aim of the decision or change (e.g. in extreme cases or where positive action is being taken). You can choose to proceed with caution, but you must provide justification for this, as you know the decision or change will impact some people more than others.

In most cases where an EIA discovers potential impacts for different groups, then the original decision or change is usually modified or adapted to take the results of the EIA into account. However, monitoring after the decision or change is made is still important. It may be appropriate to make a record in the risk register for the decision or change. This should be done if you decide to proceed with caution.