Equality Data: What the Law Says

To combat inequalities in the labour market, workplace, and society at large, Sweden primarily collects data based on gender. Equality data represents a more inclusive and intersectional method, providing a comprehensive overview of potential inequalities as it encompasses all seven grounds of discrimination*.

We have noticed a common misconception among potential clients: that certain demographic questions are illegal to ask. However, in Sweden, there are no specific restrictions on the questions that can be asked, provided that the relevant laws and regulations are followed,” says Olivia Hansson, gender studies scholar and client lead for Equality Data at Perspetivo.

Questions regarding background, ethnicity or ethnic identity, as well as questions about religious affiliation, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disabilities, can be perceived as sensitive and should only be asked when necessary for the purpose of the survey.

There is a certain hesitancy in Sweden to conduct measurements based on aspects such as sexual orientation or ethnicity, which is understandable given historical contexts. However, not measuring at all means missing out on important data that can drive positive change. It is crucial that this is done correctly.


4 Key Factors to Consider:


All respondents must have the opportunity to identify themselves regarding sensitive categories such as ethnic identity or sexual orientation. It is not permissible to categorise respondents based on someone else’s perception. It is also important to offer appropriate response options to ensure the data collected is as accurate as possible, considering that people’s identities can be multifaceted and individual.

Option to Not Respond and Consent

Respondents must have the opportunity to give their consent to share information. It is also necessary to include the option “I prefer not to answer” to allow respondents to decide which information they want to share. This also helps increase response rates, as respondents do not need to abandon the survey due to a question they do not wish to answer.

Respondents’ Anonymity

For such a survey to be compliant, it is required that all respondents remain completely anonymous. If the survey is anonymized and no personal data is processed, it is in accordance with GDPR. Pseudonymization, where respondents can be traced via IP address or cookies, is not sufficient. This requires an external platform with databases that store and manage data within the EU.

Use of a Third-party Provider

To meet the requirements for anonymity and data protection, it is recommended to use a third-party provider for analysis and delivery of statistics and insights in a suitable format, such as a report or executive summary. This provider should not release raw data or information about groups with fewer than 30 individuals to ensure the anonymity and integrity of respondents.

By following these guidelines, organisations can conduct surveys that are both legally compliant and ethically sustainable, ensuring the collection of high-quality and representative data that reflects the diverse backgrounds and perspectives of the population.


*Gender identity, transgender expression, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, and disability.