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We carried out an Equality & Diversity Survey in July 2021. The results can be found here.
This firm is committed to eliminating discrimination and promoting equality and diversity in its own policies, practices and procedures and in those areas in which it has influence. This applies to the firm's professional dealings with staff and partners, other solicitors, barristers, clients and third parties. The firm intends to treat everyone equally and with the same attention, courtesy and respect regardless of their disability, gender, marital status, age, race, racial group, colour, ethnic or national origin, nationality, religion or belief or sexual orientation. The policy is reviewed twice annually.
In developing and implementing its anti-discrimination policy, the firm is committed to complying with Principle 9 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2011 and with all current and any future anti-discrimination legislation and associated codes of practice including, but not limited to:
The Equality Act 2010 and the following codes of practice:
(a) the Commission for Racial Equality code of practice for the elimination of racial discrimination and the promotion of equality of opportunity in employment (1983);
(b) the Equal Opportunities Commission code of practice on sex discrimination; equal opportunities policies, procedures and practices in employment (1985);
(c) the Equal Opportunities Commission code of practice on Equal Pay (2003);
(d) the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 codes of practice in relation to rights of access to facilities, services and premises in employment;
(e) the European Community code of practice on the protection of the dignity of men and women at work; and any relevant amendments to or further codes of practice.
The following are the kinds of discrimination that are against the firm's policy:
(a) direct discrimination, where a person is treated less favourably on the grounds of race, racial group, colour, ethnic or national origins, sex, pregnancy, marital status, disability or sexual orientation or religion or belief;
(b) indirect discrimination, where an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice would put a substantially higher proportion of the members of one sex, or persons of a particular racial or ethnic origin, or a particular religion or belief, or a particular disability or a particular sexual orientation at a particular disadvantage compared with other persons unless that provision, criterion or practice is objectively justified by a legitimate aim and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary;
(c) victimisation, where someone is treated less favourably than others because he or she has taken action against the firm under one of the relevant Acts;
(d) harassment, when unwanted conduct related to any of the grounds referred to above takes place with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. Harassment may involve physical acts or verbal and non-verbal communications and gestures. This will include physical, verbal and non-verbal acts.
In line with Chapter 2, Outcomes 2.1 - 2.5 of the Solicitors' Code of Conduct 2011, the firm will aim to achieve the following:
• not to discriminate unlawfully, or victimise or harass anyone, in the course of professional dealings;
• provide services to clients in a way that respects diversity;
• make reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled clients, employees or managers are not placed at a substantial disadvantage compared to those who are not disabled, and not pass on the costs of these adjustments to these disabled clients, employees or managers;
• have an approach to recruitment and employment that encourages equality of opportunity and respect for diversity;
• complaints of discrimination are dealt with promptly, fairly, openly, and effectively.
As an employer, the firm will treat all employees and job applicants equally and fairly and not discriminate unjustifiably against them. This will, for example, include arrangements for recruitment and selection, terms and conditions of employment, access to training opportunities, access to promotion and transfers, grievance and disciplinary processes, demotions, selection for redundancies, dress code, references, bonus schemes, work allocation and any other employment related activities.
Recruitment and selection
This firm recognises the benefits of having a diverse workforce and will take steps to ensure that:
(a) it endeavours to recruit from the widest pool of qualified candidates possible;
(b) employment opportunities are open and accessible to all on the basis of candidates' individual qualities and personal merits
(c) where appropriate, positive action measures are taken to attract applications from all sections of society and especially from those groups which are under-represented in the workforce;
(d) selection criteria and processes do not discriminate unjustifiably on the grounds of disability, gender, marital status, race, racial group, colour, ethnic or national origin, nationality, religion or belief, or sexual orientation, other than in those instances where the firm is exercising permitted positive action;
(e) wherever appropriate and necessary, lawful exemptions (genuine occupational requirements) will be used to recruit suitable staff to meet the special needs of particular groups;
(f) all recruitment agencies acting for the firm are aware of its requirement not to discriminate and to act accordingly.
(g) a range of forms and questionnaires are used to ensure our selection process is fair.
Conditions of service
The firm will treat all employees equally and create a working environment which is free from discrimination and harassment and which respects, where appropriate, the diverse backgrounds and beliefs of employees.
Terms and conditions of service for employees will comply with anti-discrimination legislation. The provision of benefits such as working hours, maternity and other leave arrangements, performance Performance Review systems, dress code, bonus schemes and any other conditions of employment, will not discriminate against any employee on the grounds of his or her gender, marital status, race, racial group, colour, ethnic or national origin, nationality, religion or belief, or sexual orientation; or unreasonably on the grounds of his or her disability.
Where appropriate and necessary, the firm will endeavour to provide appropriate facilities and conditions of service which take into account the specific needs of employees which arise from their ethnic or cultural background, gender, responsibilities as carers, disability, religion or belief, or sexual orientation.
Promotion and career development
Promotion within the firm (including partners) will be based solely on merit.
The selection criteria and processes for recruitment and promotion will be kept under review to ensure that there is no unjustifiably discriminatory impact on any particular group.
Whilst positive action measures may be taken in accordance with the relevant anti-discrimination legislation to encourage under-represented groups to apply for promotion opportunities, recruitment or promotion to all jobs will be based solely on merit.
All employees will have equal access to training and other career development opportunities appropriate to their experience and abilities. However, the firm will take appropriate positive action measures (as permitted by the anti-discrimination legislation) to provide special training and support for groups which are under-represented in the workforce and encourage them to take up training and career development opportunities.
The career progression process for Solicitors can be found on the intranet under Human Resources. Progression for other staff should be discussed with your supervisor and/or the HR Manager
Barristers and experts should be instructed on the basis of their skills, experience and ability.
Clients' requests for a named barrister should be complied with, subject to the firm's duty to discuss with the client the suitability of the barrister and to advise appropriately.
The firm will discuss with the client any request by the client that only a barrister who is not disabled or who is of a particular gender, marital status, race, racial group, colour, ethnic or national origin, nationality, religion or belief, or sexual orientation, be instructed. In the absence of a valid reason for this request, which must be within the exemptions permitted by the anti-discrimination legislation, the firm will endeavour to persuade the client to modify their instructions in so far as they are given on discriminatory grounds. Should the client refuse to modify such instructions, the firm will cease to act.
All lists of approved suppliers and databases of contractors, agents and other third parties who, or which, are regarded as suitable to be instructed by those within the firm, have been compiled only on the basis of the ability of those persons or organisations to undertake work of a particular type and contain no discriminatory exclusion, restriction or preference. Reasonable measures are in place to ensure that sound equality and diversity policies are in place with those from whom the firm purchases goods and services.
The firm is generally free to decide whether to accept instructions from any particular client.
The firm will take steps to meet the different needs of particular clients arising from its obligations under the anti-discrimination legislation, such as the Equality Act 2010 and the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2011.
In addition, where necessary and where it is permitted by the relevant anti-discrimination legislation (for example, provisions relating to positive action or exemptions), the firm will seek to provide services which meet the specific needs and requests arising from clients' ethnic or cultural background, gender, responsibilities as carers, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation or other relevant factors.
This firm is committed to promoting equality and diversity in the firm as well as in those areas in which it has influence and is signed up to the Law Society's Equality and Inclusion Charter and the use of the supporting best practice protocols.
Employees and partners will be informed of this anti-discrimination policy and will be provided with equality and diversity training appropriate to their needs and responsibilities.
All those who act on the firm's behalf will be informed of this anti-discrimination policy and will be expected to pay due regard to it when conducting business on the firm's behalf.
In all its dealings, including those with suppliers, contractors and recruitment agencies, the firm will seek to promote the principles of equality and diversity.
The firm will make every effort to reflect its commitment to equality and diversity in its marketing and communication activities.
Ultimate responsibility for implementing the policy rests with the partners of the firm. The HR Manager is responsible for the operation of the policy. All employees and partners of the firm are expected to pay due regard to the provisions of its anti-discrimination policy and are responsible for ensuring compliance with it when undertaking their jobs or representing the firm.
Complaints of discrimination
The firm will treat seriously, and will take action where appropriate concerning, all complaints of discrimination or harassment made by employees, partners, clients, barristers or other third parties. All complaints will be investigated in accordance with the firm's grievance or complaints procedure and the complainant will be informed of the outcome.
Monitoring and review
The policy will be monitored and reviewed in a manner which will measure its progress and judge its effectiveness. Monitoring information will always be used in anonymous ways and treated with the highest level of confidentiality.
In particular, the firm will, as appropriate, monitor and record:
(a) the age, sexual orientation, gender, and ethnic composition of the workforce and partners as well as the number of disabled staff, partners at different levels of the organisation;
(b) where it is possible to do so, and where doing so will not cause offence or discomfort to those whom it is intended to protect, the sexual orientation and religion or belief of all partners, and staff will be monitored so as to ensure that they are not being discriminated against in terms of the opportunities or benefits available to them. Firms should, however, be aware that partners and staff may not choose to disclose their sexual orientation or religion or belief and that care should be taken to avoid inadvertent discrimination in such cases. This should apply equally to disability;
(c) the number and outcome of complaints of discrimination made by staff, partners, barristers, clients and other third parties;
(d) the disciplinary action (if any) taken against employees by race, gender and disability.
This information will be used to review the progress and impact of the anti- discrimination policy. Any changes required will be made and implemented.