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How is our work influencing life in Northern Ireland and delivering equality? Learn more about our policy, legal and research work.

Public opinion surveys

Equality in Northern Ireland

What you need to know

Equality in Northern Ireland – Public Opinion Surveys

The Commission’s Public Opinion Surveys on Equality in Northern Ireland support the development, monitoring and evaluation of data and performance measures aligned with the delivery of our Corporate and Business planning outcomes.

Our Public Opinion Surveys are currently being under taken in the Autumn/Winter of each year, with publication on this website in the following Spring.  The surveys use a quota-based sampling approach of 500 completed telephone interviews.

Aspects of Life in Northern Ireland
A number of questions and statements were presented to participants covering various aspects of life in Northern Ireland, including views and attitudes to equality, discrimination, workplaces, education and public services.

Our latest Public Opinion Survey obtained responses to the following questions and issues:

Awareness and understanding of equality

When asked what the term ‘equality’ means to participants, thinking specifically about Northern Ireland (NI), the most commonly cited response is that it means equal and fair treatment of all people (26%). Over one in ten (15%) hold a negative view of equality or feel that equality in NI is lacking.

Attitudes to equality

Less than a third of participants agree that the term ‘equality’ is meaningless to them and not something they think about day to day (29%), this has stayed constant in the past year, where the figure stood at 29%.

Equality status and Covid-19

When asked what areas of life Covid-19 affected, participants identified social activities such as impacts on their social life and generally getting out (25%). The social impacts of Covid were followed by general impacts on work, such as lack of staff, support and being too busy (20%) and missing family members or affecting relationships (20%). Over one in ten (16%) reported feeling isolated, restricted and missing freedoms.

Views on equality in Northern Ireland

When considering how necessary equality and anti-discrimination laws are in Northern Ireland 81% agreed that they are necessary.

Slightly under six in ten (59%) agreed that workplaces in Northern Ireland are ‘welcoming and inclusive’, this is a significant increase on 2020-21 (54%).

Over half (52%) believed that workers are generally treated with dignity and respect, this is a slight decrease on 2020-21 (54%).

One third (33%) of participants were worried that laws to help protect from discrimination will not be as strong for others in Northern Ireland as a result of Brexit.

Personal experiences of unwanted behaviour

The majority of all participants reported that they had not experienced a situation where they had not been treated with dignity or respect in their workplace, based upon their personal characteristics (85%).

It is more likely to be the case that participants have witnessed a situation in which others were not treated with dignity or respect in the workplace (23%).

Participants were also asked whether they have experienced a situation that they have not been treated with dignity or respect in the area that they live. One in ten (10%) confirmed that they had experienced this situation, and for just under one third of these (29%) the situation occurred in their street or the immediate area around their home. Twice as many (20%) witnessed such a situation, and this was also likely to happen in a street in their local area (29%) or at a shop (25%).


Over half (52%) agree that funding should be directed towards children whose education was worst affected during school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than equally to all children. Slightly under one third (31%) disagreed with this statement.

Local Area

Two thirds (66%) agree that they would consider participating in voluntary or community work, which marks a significant decrease on the previous year (73%).

The majority (88%) agreed that public spaces such as leisure centres, parks, libraries and shopping centres are ‘shared and open to all persons regardless of their personal characteristics’.

Public services

When planning public services, 56% of participants agree that the needs of different groups of people are taken into account, while 20% disagree. This is a significant rise on the previous year, at which time those in agreement with the same statement was 43%.

Download the full findings from our Winter 2021 survey :
Download the full findings from our Winter 2020 survey :
Download the full findings from our Winter 2019 survey :
Download the full findings from our Winter 2018 survey:

Related information


If you require this information in an alternative format please contact Leanne Brown, email: or Tel: 02890500607


< Social Attitudes & good relations
< Addressing inequality

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