Equality and non-discrimination are issues that may, in principle, be related to almost all activities of an organisation. Assessing equality may therefore seem challenging to begin with. Excellent equality assessment methods have been developed in recent years. Nothing prevents organisations from developing new assessment methods suitable for their operations. Examples of assessment methods and links to materials covering such methods:
The most common way to chart equality issues is to implement an equality survey for employees or stakeholders (service users). An employee survey may chart issues such as the following: do employees experience the workplace as non-discriminating, do employees have experiences of discrimination, have they observed discrimination towards others and how effective do they find measures that foster equality in the workplace. Employee surveys may also chart staff views about the equality of operations, training needs, forms of cooperation with groups at risk of discrimination etc. Stakeholder surveys may target a range of groups such as service users, cooperation partners, non-governmental organisations etc. The purpose of such surveys is to compile an outside assessment of the equality of operations or, say, the targeting of measures taken to foster equality.
Special events, including meetings focused on a single theme, or workshops, can be organised in order to assess the organisation’s equality and non-discrimination status. The purpose of such events is to facilitate a joint assessment of how equality is implemented, whether discrimination arises, what kinds of measures could be taken to develop equality between different groups further etc. The new Non-Discrimination Act places a particular emphasis on the possibility of employees, schoolchildren and their custodians, and students to participate or to be consulted in the planning of equality-promoting measures and their assessment. Meetings and workshops on equality can serve as methods of including the groups concerned in the planning and assessment of measures. Assessment meeting content can also be included in training sessions on equality. This may encourage employees to participate more actively.
Consultation of groups at risk of discrimination is a good method of collecting information about the equality of operations from the perspectives of various groups. Consultation can be implemented in a range of ways, including consultation sessions, comment rounds or interviews with experts from organisations representing different groups. A number of tools have been prepared to facilitate consultation, including the electronic commenting service for administrative authorities, (https://www.lausuntopalvelu.fi/FI) and the commenting service open to all actors (https://www.otakantaa.fi/fi-FI).
Equality assessment can be integrated with an organisation’s strategic process. For example, within certain ministries, departments have been requested to assess the implementation of equality as part of operational and financial planning. Such materials provide an excellent basis for assessing equality. Common equality objectives can be defined as a basis for assessment and included as part of the organisation’s equality promotion plan. Table 1 gives an example of the equality objectives applied by the Ministry of the Interior in 2013–2014, the implementation of which has been monitored as part of the planning of its operations and finances.
An example of non-discrimination and gender equality objectives whose implementation is assessed:
Planning and monitoring of operations:
- Insofar as possible, recruitment of the under-represented gender and members of minority groups and the share of women in special expert, managerial and executive positions are being increased.
- The Ministry and internal affairs administration offices and institutions are assessing the gender and non-discrimination impacts of the development and drafting of statutes.
- The Ministry and internal affairs administration offices and institutions have up-to-date gender equality and equality promotion plans.
- The Ministry is developing information gathering methods for collecting the experiences of employees and customers regarding the implementation of equality and non-discrimination in the administrative branch. This information is being used in the impact assessment of measures for promoting gender equality and non-discrimination.
-> The objectives set are monitored and reported on in the Operational and Financial Plan and Annual Report.
In an analysis of core functions, the organisation reviews its core functions such as communication, management, the various sectors of the service process, marketing, HR policy etc. from the equality perspective. Such an assessment may be conducted through considering the following questions.
- How equal are the various functions from the viewpoint of different users or participants? (group-specific review)
- How accessible and available are the functions?
- What kinds of measures might promote equality?
- What kind of methods provide information on the equality of core functions?
- What is the impact of employees’ attitudes towards the implementation of measures and their equality?
The purpose of a document analysis is to assess how equality is taken into account in the contents of the documents produced by the organisation and how diversity could be made more visible in the future. Analyses can be conducted not only on documents, but also on media content and other communication.
Sample questions of document analysis: The language and terminology used in documents, communication and other printed materials
- Is the language and terminology used in the documents understandable and, if so, for whom?
- Do the language and terminology used promote and reflect equality? Which terms would you replace and which terms would you use instead?
- Do the texts reflect stereotypical ideas? If so, what kind?
- Is the basic assumption made within the texts heteronormative? If so, how?
- Do the texts have an instructive or directional tone?
- Do the texts have subliminal impacts and, if so, what kind?
- What kind of idea of people do the texts reflect?
The accessibility of premises and services promote equal opportunities for many population groups. Accessibility reviews may form part of an equality assessment. Accessibility reviews may target the built environment or, for instance, the accessibility of electronic services. Accessibility can be taken into account in the evaluation criteria of acquisitions regarding construction and systems. Excellent materials have been published on accessibility reviews:
Materials of the Accessibility Centre ESKE of the Finnish Association of People with Physical Disabilities (FPD) for the charting of, and guidance and training on, the built environment: http://www.esteeton.fi/
The ‘Culture for All’ Service includes excellent tools: http://www.kulttuuriakaikille.info/accessibility
With regard to web content, information on the testing of various materials and self-assessment is included in the recommendation Accessible information and communication environment (Stivi) www.esok.fi/stivisuositus (in Finnish only)
Discrimination issues may be discussed by occupational health and safety materials. When preparing occupational health and safety action plans, issues considered important from the equality perspective can also be examined. For instance, racist comments targeted at employees from diverse ethnic backgrounds by customers within service contexts increase the psychological and social stress related to work.
Materials produced in connection with gender equality work can be used in the assessment of non-discrimination. Experiences of discrimination based on gender may highlight issues such as multiple discrimination or other factors affecting equality in the workplace. Measures implemented in connection with gender equality work can also have a positive impact on equality in the workplace.
Information on gender equality in Finland can be found on Center for Gender Equality Information Minna and on the website of the Ministry for Social Affairs and Health.
Issues related to equality in the working community may also be handled in performance reviews between supervisors and employees. This can relate to experiences of discrimination, attitudes or the fostering of equality.
Equality issues can be included in customer satisfaction surveys. This is one way of gaining an external evaluation of the equality of operations. Charting of customer satisfaction may also include consideration of methods (accessibility, forms in different languages etc.) of facilitating responses that cover as many customer groups as possible.
Control of legality materials concerning the authorities may include observations that are important to the assessment of equality. The annual reports of the authorities controlling legality, and the internal legality control reports of certain authorities, may constitute such materials.
An external body may be commissioned to evaluate equality. For instance, many development projects include external evaluation, to which equality assessment entities can be connected.
Scientific data may also be available on equality and non-discrimination issues in the organisation’s line of business. If such information is available, it may facilitate the assessment of equality within various operations. For instance, the discrimination monitoring system coordinated by the Ministry of Justice has collected a great deal of information on forms of discrimination within education and during free time, working life and in social welfare and health care services.
Several international human rights supervision bodies conduct assessments of Finland at regular intervals. Country-specific reports on the implementation of human rights conventions include recommendations for diverse walks of life on topics considered key to the equality of many groups.
Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ website on human rights conventions
The following section: Analysis of results and launch of planning ›