Office of the President and Provost (Equality, Diversity & Inclusion)


Data Collection FAQs


What do we mean by ‘equality monitoring information’ and why is it important?

Equality monitoring information or data includes personal information about staff on protected characteristics such as disability, sex, gender reassignment, race, and other characteristics. We use this data for monitoring in several ways:

  • To better understand the make-up of our workforce, and to see if there are any barriers preventing entry to, and progression at, UCL for any groups
  • To see if there are any gaps - for example, UCL has just published information on its gender, ethnicity and disability pay gaps – and work to address these, in accordance with best practice and with our own EDI policies
  • To develop initiatives that seek to address these gaps and assess their impact.
  • For benchmarking and comparison purposes e.g. with other HEIs through submission of our annual HESA return .

Why am I being asked to share / check my own equality monitoring information?

We want to improve the accuracy and completeness of the equality monitoring information we hold about the UCL staff community.  This data allows us to better understand UCL’s workforce profile and identify patterns and trends where potential disadvantage might exist. This in turn helps us identify targeted positive action interventions and initiatives to improve our support, policies, information, and decision-making, and to ensure a diverse and inclusive UCL community. To do this to best effect, we need as complete and accurate information as possible.

Equality monitoring also helps us to meet our legal duties under the Equality Act 2010, both in terms of statutory reporting, reporting to HESA,  and to protect our staff members from discrimination and harassment at work. Equality monitoring is a lawful basis for the collection of personal data under the Data Protection Act 2018.

In addition, data protection law requires us to take reasonable steps to ensure that any personal data we process is accurate and up-to-date, and this is why we are asking staff now, and on an on-going basis, to check and update their information. Some of the information will never change but some aspects may e.g. a staff member may become disabled. Employees are responsible for informing us of any changes to the personal data that they have supplied during their employment, and this can be done easily via Inside UCL.

What equality monitoring information is being asked for?

The information we are asking all staff to share for equality monitoring purposes is as follows:

  • Sex
  • Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Disability status
  • Nationality

This information is known as special category data under the Data Protection Act. The UCL privacy notice states that such special category data can be used for specific reasons, such as to comply with our employment law obligations.

Will I be identifiable within the monitoring data?

For the purposes of equality monitoring, the data is primarily considered on an anonymised and on a group / larger sample basis.  As such, an individual’s identity is protected, and we cannot identify individuals as we use the data to consider how we can make EDI improvements.

However, some monitoring may be undertaken on a smaller group basis. For example:

  • To track progress on EDI data on leadership programmes in terms of diversity of participants.
  • Where a research funding body wants to know if grants have been used for under-represented groups.
  • To inform faculty / department equality action planning e.g. diversity of staff for grant funding or impact assessments.

In all cases, information is shared on a strictly confidential and need-to-know basis, and the advice of UCL’s Data Protection Officer (DPO) will be sought to help consider the legitimacy and business case of such requests.

Will my manager be able to see the personal equality monitoring information I enter?

Your line manager is not able to see or access your equality monitoring information on Inside UCL (or on MyHR).

However, we encourage staff with a disability to share this information in confidence with their manager, so that they can discuss appropriate actions, a possible referral to Occupational Health and / or the need for any reasonable adjustments.

Who has access to equality monitoring information?

Colleagues in HR have access to equality monitoring information; access to the information is strictly to controlled and only accessed on a need-to-know basis for legitimate purposes.

In addition, anonymised equality monitoring data in group / larger sample format basis is available more widely across UCL (e.g. via Tableau) for the purposes of data analysis, trend information, research etc. It is not possible to identify any individuals within this data. 

All personal data is always treated in the strictest confidence in line with the Data Protection Act 2018.

If I share my equality monitoring information, what guarantee is there that it won’t be considered and used to my detriment? 

As the equality information you provide will be used for the purposes of monitoring and this is undertaken on an anonymous and large / group basis, then it is not possible to identify individuals and will not be used to any individual’s detriment.

In the unlikely event of an alleged detriment, then this should be raised via HR, and it would be investigated.

Why are the questions I am asked to consider asked in that way?

The way questions are phrased is determined by the information we have to return to HESA.  By aligning the questions with the requirements of the HESA submission, this also allows us to benchmark and compare ourselves with sector-wide data.  HESA regularly reviews and updates the data requirements, and so we too periodically add, remove or amend questions where appropriate. For example, we no longer collect data on marital status.

What’s the UK GDPR position in respect of collecting this information?

The Data Protection Act is the UK’s implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Like all staff data, this information is stored securely and will be kept confidential. Please see UCL’s Staff Privacy Notice for further information about how UCL uses your data. 

A requirement of the Data Protection Act is that the data we hold should be accurate and up-to-date; hence the reason we are asking all staff both now and on an on-going basis to check and update as appropriate their information. Some of the information will never change but some aspects may e.g. a staff member may become disabled.

Where is the information / data held?

All personal data is stored on the UCL HR data base and is held in line with Data Protection requirements (UCL Staff Privacy Notice). In summary, this means that it is held securely and only accessed by authorised staff on a genuine need-to-know basis.

How does UCL protect my personal information / data?

We do our utmost to protect your privacy. Data protection legislation obliges us to follow security procedures regarding the storage and disclosure of personal information to avoid unauthorised loss or access. As such we have implemented industry-standard security systems and procedures to protect information from unauthorised disclosure, misuse, or destruction. We have established procedures to deal with any suspected personal data breach and will notify you and any applicable regulator of a breach where we are legally required to do so.

Will it take long to check / update my information?

No. There is now a much faster and more intuitive way to update your own personal equality monitoring information on a confidential basis using Inside UCL. We’re asking all staff to take a few minutes to check and update their information.

Going forward, we’ll be issuing regular reminders to 'spring clean’ all your information, including equality monitoring information data and emergency contacts.

Do I have to provide this equality monitoring information? 

No. You do not have to share your personal equality information. However, if all staff check and complete their data, this means that we can implement targeted actions with full certainty and confidence, knowing it is founded on complete and up-to-date data.

While we strongly encourage staff to share their full equality monitoring information, most questions also provide an option of ‘prefer not to say’, as we understand that some staff, for whatever reason, may prefer not to share (some of) their own data.

What if I don’t want to share all my equality monitoring information?

It’s fine if you only want to share some of your equality monitoring information and not all of it. So, if for whatever reason you’d rather not share some specific information, then you can select the ‘prefer not to say’ option (where applicable). Even if you only provide some of the information, that is still useful. While we’d rather have complete information from all staff, it’s not mandatory to provide it and we respect the right of colleagues to not share it if they’d rather not.

I thought I’d already provided my information when I joined UCL – why am I being asked to do this again?

We are asking all colleagues to check and complete their information in case you did not provide full information at the time. Some information may also have changed since you first completed it (e.g. disability status or gender identity).

It is a requirement under UK GDPR for us to take reasonable steps to ensure that any personal data we process is accurate and up-to-date, and so routinely asking colleagues to check and update their information is good practice.

How do I update my information?

It is now really quick and easy to up-date your personal information using Inside UCL:

  1. Go to Inside UCL and click on the ‘My Details’ tile.
  2. Under ‘Personal details’, click on ‘Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)’ to review your data. You can add to and change your information here.
  3. Under ‘Personal details’, click on ‘Disability’ to review your data. You can confirm that you have no disability, or add disabilities here.

I’ve tried to access Inside UCL but can’t. What can I do?

If you have a problem accessing Inside UCL, then refer to the self-help guide.