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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 first Public Opinion Survey was contracted to Ipsos Mori Belfast.  The survey was undertaken between 3 December 2018 and 18 January 2019 and used 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.

The 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 NI, the most commonly cited response is that it means the equal treatment of all people (19%).

Just over one in ten participants (12%) hold a negative view about the level of equality in NI or feel that equality is lacking.
 

Attitudes to equality

The majority of participants agree that there are benefits of having an equal society in NI (87% net agreement) and feel that they care deeply about making NI a fairer place to live (86% net agreement).

Opinions are more mixed in terms of how meaningful the term ‘equality’ is to people and how much it is thought about day to day. Just under half (48%) of participants disagree that the term ‘equality’ is meaningless to them in their everyday lives, while 28% agree.
 

Equality status and discrimination

The groups considered to be protected from unlawful discrimination overall are racial and ethnic groups (28%), those of a certain sexual orientation (21%) and those from a certain religious or community background (17%). 

Almost one-thirds of participants (32%) said that they do not know any groups protected from unlawful discrimination.

In terms of the settings in which people are protected from unlawful discrimination, 38% stated the workplace. 18% considered people to be protected when accessing public services and 8% mentioned education. Over a third of participants (37%) said they do not know any settings in which people are protected from unlawful discrimination.

 
 

Views on equality in Northern Ireland

Ninety percent of participants overall agree that equality and anti-discrimination laws in NI are necessary, while 73% agree that equality and anti-discrimination laws in NI should be strengthened. A small proportion of participants disagree that these laws are necessary (4%) or that they should be strengthened (9%).

There is less optimism among NI citizens that people can achieve their potential regardless of their personal characteristics; 63% agree that this is the case, however 12% disagree. 

Around one-fifth of participants (22%) express no opinion on whether people can achieve their potential regardless of their personal characteristics, showing a degree of ambivalence among some people on this issue.

Three quarters (75%) of the population agree that the people of NI are welcoming to others, while 8% disagree. 

The majority of participants agree that workplaces are welcoming and inclusive in NI generally (62%), with 8% disagreeing that this is the case.

While the majority of participants also agree that workers are generally treated with dignity and respect (62%), a higher proportion disagree that this is the case (13%).

Overall, the majority of participants agree that more needs to be done to promote good relations between people of different background (88%) and to promote equality of opportunity (80%).
 

Personal experiences of unwanted behaviour

The majority of participants stated that they had not personally experienced a situation at work where they were not treated with dignity and respect based on their personal characteristics in the last 12 months (66%). Twelve percent of participants stated that they had not been treated with dignity and respect. Twenty two percent of participants stated that they have not been in a workplace during the last 12 months.

Among those participants who are working, 73% reported that they had not witnessed a situation in the last 12 months where others in their workplace were not treated with dignity and respect based on their personal characteristics. Twenty seven percent of participants said they had witnessed this.
 

Workplaces

A number of statements were presented to participants covering various aspects of life in Northern Ireland, including the workplace.

The level of agreement around aspects of workplaces in NI is mixed. Just over a third of participants (35%) agree that workplaces tend to employ people with disabilities, while almost a quarter (25%) disagree that this is the case.

Once in employment, the majority (53%) agree that employees with disabilities are well supported, while 14% disagree with this.

Almost half of participants (48%) agree that workplaces tend to be family friendly and allow flexible working, however 19% disagree that this is the case.

The most divergent views emerge over the statement that workplaces rarely support employees with mental ill-health. While 29% disagreed, feeling that actually workplaces do support employees with mental ill-health, 35% agree that this support is not there.
 

Education

A number of statements were presented to participants covering various aspects of life in Northern Ireland, including the education.

Seventy one percent of participants agree that schools are supportive of girls studying science, maths and technology subjects. Seven percent of participants disagree with this.

The majority of participants (62%) agree that bullying in schools tends to be on the basis of a child’s personal characteristics, while 16% disagree that this it the case.

Over half of participants (56%) agree that traveller and Roma children tend to receive fewer qualifications than other children, with 12% in disagreement.

There are more mixed views over the idea that children who have recently arrived in NI tend to receive fewer qualifications than other children, with 28% in agreement and 26% in disagreement. However, it should be noted that a quarter of participants (25%) answered ‘don’t know’ to this particular statement. Seventy-one percent of participants agreed that schools are supportive of girls studying science, maths and technology subjects.
 

Local Area

A number of statements were presented to participants covering various aspects of life in Northern Ireland, including the local area.

Almost 9 in 10 participants (89%) agree that their local shops are accessible, with 6% in disagreement.

To a lesser extent, the majority of participants also agree that the streets and public spaces are well planned and accessible (76%), while 12% disagree that this is the case.
 

Public figures and public services

A number of statements were presented to participants covering various aspects of life in Northern Ireland, including public services.

Overall, just under half of participants (48%) agree that the needs of different groups of people are taken into account when planning public services, while 25% disagree.

Less than a quarter of participants (21%) agree that public figures show leadership on equality matters, while over half (54%) disagree with this.
 
 


Download the full findings of the Public Opinion Survey:
 



Related information

 

 

 

< Social Attitudes & good relations
< Addressing inequality

 
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