Focus on outcomes, monitoring and evaluation - LGB priorities and recommendations
It is important that strategic actions make a clear and tangible difference to the lives of LGB individuals. There should be focus on achieving outcomes, rather than simply outputs, together with the development of a robust monitoring and evaluation framework that will inform progress towards the longer-term vision of the strategic action.
We recommend the development of a set of high level, outcome focused performance indicators that will provide baseline data and also monitor change over time; indicators that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.
It is essential that steps are taken to identify and address gaps in data relating to LGB individuals in Northern Ireland so as to ensure effective delivery and monitoring of the strategic actions.
As highlighted in a range of research reports on sexual orientation inequality, there is a lack of reliable and comprehensive data on sexual orientation. The absence of reliable data is a major obstacle to measuring progress on equality of opportunity for LGB individuals. Service providers and employers require this information in order to assess whether they need to take action to address inequalities facing LGB people.
For example, research commissioned by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland on employment inequalities in an economic downturn has highlighted that there is very little labour market data on employment rates and sexual orientation in the UK and very little evidence of the employment position of LBGT groups in Northern Ireland. It indicated the need for greater information in relation to employment of LGBT groups and concluded that improved monitoring by employers and other organisations would help identify the employment needs of LGBT groups in Northern Ireland.
The Equality Commission has also highlighted the limited data, if any, on the presence of young gay people in the school system, as well as limited information on the effects of homophobia on educational attainment. Although data collection on sexual orientation in Northern Ireland is improving in some areas , it is clear that more needs to be done.
The Equality Commission acknowledges the sensitivities surrounding the collection of monitoring information in relation to sexual orientation. Its Guidance for public authorities on monitoring gives practical guidance on how public authorities can monitor on this equality issue, stressing as regards workplace monitoring, the need for employers to create a workplace culture in which employees are not fearful of disclosing their sexual orientation.
The Equality Commission has also stressed the importance of effective engagement with LGB individuals and groups so as to enable a public authority understand the barriers which need to be overcome and in order to monitor and evaluate steps taken to address these barriers.