Information about your dealings with Stonewall [Extraneous material removed]

Ermine Amies made this Freedom of Information request to University of Warwick

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Dear University of Warwick,

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). Please provide any information that you hold answering to any of the following descriptions:

1. Any application you made in 2019 or 2020 to be a “Stonewall Diversity Champion” or to be included on Stonewall’s “Workplace Equality Index,” including any attachments or appendices to those applications. Please redact personal details if necessary.

2. Any feedback you received in 2019 or 2020 from Stonewall in relation to either application or programme.

3. Any other communication you have received from Stonewall in 2019 or 2020 unless privileged or otherwise exempt from disclosure (but if you claim privilege or exemption in relation to any material, please say in broad terms what the material is and the basis on which you claim to be entitled to withhold it).

4. Full details of any equality impact assessment you carried out connected with any of these applications (including any equality impact assessment carried out prior to an earlier application of the same kind, if no further assessment was done).

5. Details of the total amount of money you paid to Stonewall (i) in 2019; (ii) in 2020, whether or not as payment for goods or services.

6. Whether you intend to continue your membership of any Stonewall scheme in the future, and if so which.

Yours faithfully,

Ermine Amies

infocompliance, Resource, University of Warwick

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References

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1. mailto:[email address]

infocompliance, Resource, University of Warwick

Ermine

Thank you for your email dated 06 February 2021 requesting information
from the University of Warwick under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Please find below your request and the University’s response.

FOI Request

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). Please
provide any information that you hold answering to any of the following
descriptions:

 

1. Any application you made in 2019 or 2020 to be a “Stonewall Diversity
Champion” or to be included on Stonewall’s “Workplace Equality Index,”
including any attachments or appendices to those applications. Please
redact personal details if necessary.

 

Section 1(1) (a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 imposes a duty on
public authorities to inform the requester whether or not the information
requested is held. The University can confirm that there was no
application to be a “Stonewall Diversity Champion” in 2019 or 2020, but
instead just renewal of membership so there are no associated application
documents to disclose.

Section 1(1) (a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 imposes a duty on
public authorities to inform the requester whether or not the information
requested is held. Concerning Stonewall’s “Workplace Equality Index” (WEI)
the University can confirm that it did not make a submission in 2020 due
to the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore, does not hold any documentation in
relation to 2020 submissions.

 

However, in respect of the submissions for 2019 the University did
participate but is withholding the requested information since it
considers the exemption under section 43(2) of the Freedom of Information
Act 2000 is engaged.

 

Section 43(2) states that “information is exempt information if its
disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice the
commercial interests of any person (including the public authority holding
it)”.  The University considers that the release of the requested
information would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of
Stonewall Equality Limited. The ICO guidance requires the University to be
of the view that there is a real and significant (not hypothetical) risk
to the commercial interests of Stonewall Equality Limited.  Disclosure
under the Freedom of Information Act is effectively disclosure to the
general public at large, not solely the person who has made the request.
The University is, therefore, of the view that disclosing any information
pertaining to its submissions to the WEI (and any subsequent feedback
received) would seriously undermine the WEI process by providing other
organisations with an insight into the scoring and assessment structure of
the WEI. This could present other organisations with a substantial
advantage when submitting future WEI as it would reveal information that
could influence their own future submissions. Disclosing WEI submissions
and associated feedback would jeopardise the integrity of the WEI process
by advantaging those organisations with a greater knowledge of the scoring
process and there would be little assurance that submissions are
reflective of current policies and practices.

 

In addition, the WEI submission and feedback process is confidential and
should such information be made available to the public at large, it would
result in the WEI process losing credibility with employers. Employers may
not want to engage in future WEI submissions if they knew their
submissions and associated feedback were at risk of public disclosure or
it may result in less candid submissions. 

 

The exemption at section 43(2) is a qualified exemption, which means that
the University must consider whether the public interest in maintaining
the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure. The University
considers there is no overriding public interest in the circumstances that
would warrant prejudicing the Stonewall’s commercial interests. The
University is of the opinion that the public interest lies in favour of
withholding the requested information.

 

Furthermore, the University declines to provide the documentation in
respect of its 2019 submission because a WEI submission typically include
a lot of personal data (including special category data). Disclosure of
this information may place the University in breach of the General Data
Protection Regulation 2016 and the Data Protection Act 2018. The
University is relying on the exemption under section 40(2) of the Freedom
of Information Act 2000 in this regard.

 

2. Any feedback you received in 2019 or 2020 from Stonewall in relation to
either application or programme.

 

Please see response to question 1 above.

 

3. Any other communication you have received from Stonewall in 2019 or
2020 unless privileged or otherwise exempt from disclosure (but if you
claim privilege or exemption in relation to any material, please say in
broad terms what the material is and the basis on which you claim to be
entitled to withhold it).

 

The University can confirm that other communications were received from
Stonewall in both 2019 and 2020. However, is withholding the requested
information since it is considered that the exemption under section 43(2)
of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 applies.

 

Section 43(2) states that “information is exempt information if its
disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice the
commercial interests of any person (including the public authority holding
it)”.  The University considers that the release of the requested
information would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of
Stonewall Equality Limited. The ICO guidance requires the University to be
of the view that there is a real and significant (not hypothetical) risk
to the commercial interests of Stonewall Equality Limited.  Disclosure
under the Freedom of Information Act is effectively disclosure to the
general public at large, not solely the person who has made the request.
The University is, therefore, of the view that disclosing any other
communications it has received from Stonewall would damage their
commercial interests because they offer a paid for service, and the
communications received by its members is a part of that service. The
information requested is not publicly available via Stonewall’s website
and it therefore tailored to its audience and exclusively available to
those who pay for a Stonewall membership. To make this type of information
publicly available, by virtue of an FOI request, would potentially
undermine Stonewall’s business structure as organisations would no longer
need to pay for its services as the information they previously paid for
would be freely available.

 

The exemption at section 43(2) is a qualified exemption which means that
the University must consider whether the public interest in maintaining
the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure. The University
considers there is no overriding public interest in the circumstances that
would warrant prejudicing the Stonewall’s commercial interests. The
University is of the opinion that the public interest lies in favour of
withholding the requested information.

 

Furthermore, the University declines to provide communications with
Stonewall Equality Limited because some of the correspondence includes
personal data (including special category data). Disclosure of this
information may place the University in breach of the General Data
Protection Regulation 2016 and the Data Protection Act 2018. The
University is relying on the exemption under section 40(2) of the Freedom
of Information Act 2000 in this regard.

 

4. Full details of any equality impact assessment you carried out
connected with any of these applications (including any equality impact
assessment carried out prior to an earlier application of the same kind,
if no further assessment was done).

 

The University can confirm that it has not carried out any equality impact
assessments in connection with (a) its membership to Stonewall or (b) its
submission to Stonewall’s WEI.

 

5. Details of the total amount of money you paid to Stonewall (i) in 2019;
(ii) in 2020, whether or not as payment for goods or services.

 

The University can confirm that the following amounts were paid to
Stonewall and are in respect of its membership fee and for staff
participation in training events: 

 

+------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| Year | Total |
|------------------------------------+-----------------------------------|
| 2019 | 3,970.80 |
|------------------------------------+-----------------------------------|
| 2020 | 3,334.80 |
+------------------------------------------------------------------------+

 

6. Whether you intend to continue your membership of any Stonewall scheme
in the future, and if so which.

The University can confirm that its membership to the Stonewall Diversity
Champion programme was renewed in February 2021.

I trust that this information will be helpful to you, however, should you
be dissatisfied with the way in which your request has been handled you
can request an internal review within one month of our response and, in
the first instance, you are advised to follow the procedure outlined here:
[1]http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/legal...

If you remain dissatisfied with how your request has been handled, you
have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at: The Information
Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Walter Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire,
SK9 5AF (0303 123 1113) ([2]https://ico.org.uk/).

Yours sincerely,

Jane Furze
Director, Marketing and Communications, Regional Strategy and Warwick
Institute of Engagement
University House | Kirby Corner Road | CV4 8UW | Coventry | UK | Strategy
Group

References

Visible links
1. http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/legal...
2. https://ico.org.uk/

Ermine Amies left an annotation ()

Warwick paid £7305.60 in 2019 and 2020 to Stonewall.

They have claimed S43 920 exemption. FOIA Section 43(2) Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any person (including the public authority holding it).

On WEI, they claim S40(2) relying on General Data Protection Regulation 2016 and the Data Protection Act 2018.