Our expertise: Equality and diversity
We believe that it is essential that policy on equality, diversity and discrimination in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is informed by the best and most robust evidence available. Our research covers a wide range of topics, including:
- Changing views and experiences in employment and service delivery of groups sharing protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 (e.g. age, civil partnership, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation)
- Disadvantages and ways to address them among protected groups and people suffering multiple inequalities
- Fair access to public services, goods and facilities
- Methodological developments in monitoring inequality and progress towards equality
- Evaluation of programmes and initiatives designed to reduce inequality, discrimination and bullying
Find out more about our:
Studies and methods
We are proud to carry out the British Social Attitudes Survey and the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, which have at various times asked questions relating to views on equality, discrimination and fairness. We also conduct:
In addition to these surveys, we have conducted a range of work using:
- tests and perceptions of discrimination in recruitment for jobs, work practices and the media (e.g. a test for racial discrimination by submitting identical job applications, investigating views on the portrayal of people by age in the media);
- secondary analysis of existing datasets to shed new light on areas of inequality, discrimination or multiple disadvantage (e.g. understanding of multiple disadvantage in older age using ELSA data; exploring experiences of discrimination related to sight impairment among young people using data from the Millennium Cohort study);
- qualitative work to explore experiences related to changes in equality policy and law, and responses to new equality legislation, emerging good practice, and ways to improve access to services (e.g. exploring management and employer responses to new equality legislation on sexual orientation and religion and belief, the effects of the introduction of same-sex civil partnerships on the lives of lesbians, gay men and bisexual people);
- workshops and cognitive testing to develop survey questions for monitoring progress on equality (e.g. developing questions on gender identity and transgender that are acceptable and understandable to the transgender and wider population);
- evaluations of programmes of work or initiatives to reduce poverty and discrimination, promote equality and fairness and foster good relations and human rights (e.g. exploring the implementation of, and good practice related to the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) in England and Wales);
- literature reviews and evidence assessments to establish the best evidence available in relation to equality policy and discrimination faced by groups sharing a protected characteristics (e.g. evidence reviews of research on discrimination related to sexual orientation and transgender; assessment of literature on community-led attempts to reduce poverty in other countries and what can be learnt from them in the UK).
We have developed expertise in a number of policy areas in recent years, such as around the implementation of and responses to the Equality Act 2010 and the PSED; investigating what works in tackling and reducing homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools; attempts to address religion or belief discrimination in the workplace and service delivery work.
For the full list of our projects, visit our Equality & diversity research page.
We work with a wide range of funders and commissioning organisations in the equality, diversity and discrimination fields.
At a national level we work regularly with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (in England and Wales) and with the Government Equalities Office and the Welsh Government. Our colleagues at ScotCen also work with the Scottish Government.
Other projects are commissioned by organisations with a specific equality function, such as Acas in relation to employment, the trade union UNISON, and the visual impairment charity RNIB. Studies related to the abuse and neglect of older people was funded by the Department of Health and Comic Relief and the black and minority doctors' views on the fairness of its functions by the General Medical Council.
Our work is also supported by research funders such as the Economic and Social Research Council, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Nuffield Foundation.
We believe that research has a fundamental role to play in developing and improving policy related to equality, diversity and fairness. Importantly because NatCen are an independent, non-politically aligned organisation, we are often able to provide sound evidence in what is sometimes a controversial field. Here are some examples of the ways in which our studies have made a difference.
Tackling and reducing homophobic, biphobic and transphobic (HBT) bullying among school-aged children and young people
NatCen were commissioned by the Government Equalities Office to conduct an evidence review, depth interviews with teachers and case studies to explore what works in tackling HBT bullying in schools. The study drew out what was thought to work in different contexts. The findings contributed to the shape of a two-million pounds programme to tackle and reduce HBT bullying in schools, which NatCen are evaluating.
Religion and belief discrimination
We conducted a call for evidence on religion or belief discrimination in the workplace and service delivery for the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The findings contributed to a series of guidance documents that NatCen wrote with Middlesex University and the EHRC to be published online from spring 2016.
The Equality Act and the Public Sector Equality Duty
As part of the Government Equality Office’s review of the PSED in England we helped show that the duty was generally well-received and not necessarily overly burdensome to public bodies. This contributed to the policy to keep the duty as it was and to evaluate it fully later. In Wales we showed that the model of the PSED adopted there was helpful in promoting equality but that some public bodies struggled more than others with its implementation. The EHRC in Wales used the work to promote good practice examples gathered during the study and to target their efforts in providing support. The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission consulted NatCen on the introduction of their equivalent public sector duty to build on the lessons learnt in England and Wales.
Attitudes and policy change: same-sex relationships
Our long running survey of public opinion, British Social Attitudes, showed that back in the mid-1980s a majority of the population considered same-sex relationships to be wrong, peaking at 64% at around the time of the HIV/AIDS scare. However, public attitudes changed quite dramatically over the next 30 years and changes to legislation followed. As the proportion of people saying that same-sex relationships are wrong fell below 50% for the first time, we saw the age of consent lowered to 16, equal adoption rights and the introduction of civil partnerships. As those opposed have become a smaller minority in recent years, now under a third, the legalisation of gay marriage has followed.
We work hard with clients to make sure that the research they commission appears in the right places. All our clients receive free media consulation and assistance. This makes sure that research is seen and used by as many people as possible.
Some examples of the range of our equality and diversity coverage:
For more information, please contact Martin Mitchell at 0207 549 9584 or fill in our contact form.