The post about walking reminded me about the second half of the walking application form. As well as asking about whether the walkers were new walkers old walkers or returning walkers (?!?) the form also asked for the, by now, traditional collection of equalities information.
It can be really useful to know who uses your service especially when there are access issues. Indeed, some aspects of the equalities information will directly impact on the service. For example, what age are the participants or do they have a disability.
In fairness to this form (it was a form about going for a walk but we’ll leave that for a moment) it only asked for age, disability, gender and ethnicity.
The full equalities form used in most council enterprises includes the classic: ‘Is your gender identity the same as that which you were born with?’
There are occasions where this might be necessary but surely we don’t need to measure the ethnicity of those who are walking or the sexuality of those who have completed surveys about their bins being collected or the religious beliefs of those who use our open spaces?
Are we not falling into the trap of assuming that things like race, religion, sexuality, age define us more than our individual personality or even our socio-economic background?
We can tell you some fascinating things about who does what but for what benefit?