The deadline for submission of your SRA diversity survey data is 30 July 2021. See our guide to this year’s exercise here.
Law firms have spent the past few weeks collecting anonymised diversity data. The next step is to decide if that data needs to be published and in what format.
After the Diversity Survey
But what happens next? Does the concept of equality, diversity and inclusion go back into a box until the next survey?
If it does, you might be missing an opportunity to engage staff and improve the firm.
Don’t forget it’s a core regulatory Principle that solicitors and their firms “act in a way which encourages equality, diversity and inclusion”.
So now is a good point to stand back and think about these issues, both as an employer and as a service provider. Are there any improvements that should be made across the firm?
- Does the religious and ethnic makeup of the practice reflect our local community and client base? If not, why?
- Can people with disabilities and vulnerabilities easily access services? How could their experience be enhanced?
- Are there unintentional barriers to any particular group of people instructing the firm or coming to work for us?
Too important to be left to management
It doesn’t just have to be the partners thinking about equality, diversity and inclusion. In any event, are they really best placed to objectively address these issues? Do they even have the time?
A better option could be to get everyone else in the firm involved.
Say what you like about the SRA Diversity Survey, but at the very least it is a great opportunity to open a conversation. If the question is “what can we do better?”, the answer is likely to come from the staff.
Everyone is likely to agree on the firm’s strengths, such as all client information being available in large script or audio; or a website that is designed for accessibility.
But you will have blind spots. And your staff has a wealth of lived experiences that can help identify those.
You might find that individuals want to go further and champion certain communities or areas of inclusiveness. And that of course is to be encouraged.
Making diversity open to everyone in this way makes staff feel included and trusted, while bringing fresh ideas to improve the firm.
Always be open to learning
There are lots of free resources available to help employers and service providers do better, e.g.:
- Stonewall publishes employer resources for more inclusive workplaces
- The SRA has a very useful social mobility resource
- MIND has a whole set of toolkits relating to mental health in the workplace
- The Equality and Human Rights Commission provides advice and guidance on many relevant topics
- Inclusive Employers (a membership organisation) has a learning and development portal
Equality, diversity and inclusion is a constantly developing area. It’s important to not get left behind so that you can challenge any internal resistance to change.