Sharing protected characteristic data


Data collection and disclosure

To understand, support and celebrate diversity, an organisation must first understand the characteristics of its workforce, which is done by gathering and analysing its staff data.

Data can be collected in various ways including the employment staff record (ESR or similar system), the NHS staff survey, during the recruitment process, or in an appraisal.

What is data disclosure?

Data disclosure refers to the number of staff who identify with and declare a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 which includes age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marital status, religion/belief or disability.

Being aware of this data can help employers:

  • support to individuals to help them thrive at work
  • understand how representative the workforce is of the local community

There are steps an organisation can take to support accurate recording of protected characteristic data:  

  • Ensure the reasons for collecting personal data are clearly communicated to staff to encourage disclosure
  • Link in with recruitment and HR teams to discuss the importance of applicants sharing their protected characteristics at the point of application or, alternatively, declaring non-disclosure
  • In mandatory training, such as recruitment or diversity, include conversations around why recording and sharing accurate data is important
  • Support line managers to embed wider discussions around updating personal data into the appraisal process
  • Remove categories of data collection such as 'undisclosed' or 'unknown'. Retain one option which clearly indicates a decision to withhold data has been made, such as 'prefer not to disclose'
  • Engage senior and board level colleagues in the agenda of data collection to ensure that improvements are embedded within organisational priorities such as annual reporting

You can learn more about the benefits your organisation can expect to see from improving data declaration across your organisation on our dedicated page

Read about how Dorset Healthcare University Trust improved how it collected and recorded data in this case study.

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