Our Commitment to Equality and Diversity
We are committed to eliminating unlawful discrimination and to promoting equality and diversity within our policies, practices and procedures.This applies to our professional dealings with:
- employees and partners,
- other solicitors,
- the police,
- Probation Service,
- Crown Prosecution Service,
- other outside agencies,
- third parties
We shall treat everyone equally and with the same attention, courtesy and respect regardless of:
Sex (including marital status, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity and paternity);
Sexual orientation (including civil partnership status);
Race or racial group (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins);
Religion or belief;
Caring responsibility; or
We take all reasonable steps to ensure that the Firm and its employees do not unlawfully discriminate under:-
- The Equality Act 2010;
- The Employment Rights Act 1996;
- The Human Rights Act 1998;
- The Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000;
- The Fixed-Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000;
- The Work and Families Act 2006;
- The Civil Partnership Act 2004; and
Any other relevant legislation in force from time to time relating to discrimination in employment and the provision of goods, facilities or services.
(b) Meeting Clients Needs
(i) General Statement
As a provider of publicly funded legal services we will treat all clients equally and fairly and will not unlawfully discriminate against them. We will also, wherever possible, take steps to promote equal opportunity in relation to access to the legal services that we provide, taking account of the diversity of the communities that we serve.
(ii) Identifying Clients Needs
We are committed to meeting the diverse needs of clients. We will take steps to identify the needs of clients in the community and develop any plans and procedures setting out how we will meet clients’ needs and for ensuring the services which we provide are accessible to all. We will take account, in particular, the needs of clients with a disability and clients who are unable to communicate effectively in English. We will consider whether particular groups are predominant within our client base and, were possible, will ensure that their needs are met.
(c) Communications Plan
We will devise policies and procedures to promote and raise awareness of policies and procedures for ensuring that our services are accessible for a diverse range of clients. Our Communications Plan sets out what steps we have taken or/ and will take to put in place customer service policies and procedures to make our services accessible to clients. It contains a list of policies and procedures; information about what steps we will take to put them in place; who is responsible for them; and how we will make our policies and procedures openly available for the public.
All employees will be informed of the Communications Plan and training provided where appropriate to ensure that it is effectively implemented.
Dealings with Third Parties
(i) General Statement
We do not unlawfully discriminate in dealings with experts and third parties. All experts and third parties are instructed from a register of experts and have been assessed by the Firm as being capable of meeting both our and our clients’ requirements. Experts and third parties are instructed because they satisfy our selection criteria.
(ii) Dealings with Barristers
We will instruct barristers on the basis of their skill, experience and ability and not unlawfully discriminate, or encourage barristers‟ clerks to unlawfully discriminate on the grounds of their sex (including marital status, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity and paternity); sexual orientation (including civil partnership status); race or racial group (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins); religion or belief; age; caring responsibility; or disability.
(i) General Statement
As an employer, we will treat all employees and job applicants equally and fairly and will not unlawfully discriminate against them. This applies equally to voluntary positions and anyone undertaking work experience with us. 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.
(ii) Recruitment and Selection
We recognise the benefits of having a diverse workforce and will take steps to ensure that:
- we endeavour to recruit from the widest pool of qualified candidates practicable;
- employment opportunities are open and accessible to all on the basis of their individual qualities and personal merit;
- where appropriate, positive action is taken to attract applications from all sections of society and especially from those groups which are underrepresented in the workforce;
- selection criteria and processes do not unlawfully discriminate on the grounds of sex (including marital status, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity and paternity); sexual orientation (including civil partnership status); race or racial group (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins); religion or belief; age; caring responsibility; or disability.
- wherever appropriate and necessary, lawful exemptions (genuine occupational requirements) will be used to recruit suitable staff to meet the special needs of particular groups;
- any recruitment agencies acting for us are aware of this policy and act accordingly.
(iii) Conditions of Service
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 sex (including marital status, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity and paternity); sexual orientation (including civil partnership status); race or racial group (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins); religion or belief; age; caring responsibility; or disability.
(iv) Promotion and Career Development
Promotion within the Firm will be based solely on merit. The Firm’s Recruitment and Selection Policy will be kept under review to ensure that we comply with anti-discrimination legislation.
(f) Equality and Diversity Training Plan
We will identify equality and diversity training needs and draw up a plan to address these as appropriate to their responsibilities. The Equality & Diversity Training Plan will include details of the nature of the training that will be provided, who will be trained, when training will be provided and who is responsible within the Firm for ensuring that training is delivered.
(g) Working with other organisations
All those who act on the Firm’s behalf will be informed of this policy and will be expected to adhere to it when conducting business on the Firm’s behalf.
(h) Implementing the policy
The Firm has appointed the Practice Manager to be responsible for the operation of this Policy. The Practice Manager will report directly to the Senior Partners once every year and also in the event of systemic failings in this Policy.
All employees are informed of this Policy as part of their induction and during equality and diversity training. All employees are expected to pay due regard to the provisions of this Policy and the specific Outcomes within Chapter 2 of the SRA Code of Conduct and are responsible for ensuring compliance with it when undertaking their jobs or representing the Firm.
(ii) Complaints of discrimination / Breach of this Policy
We treat seriously all complaints of unlawful discrimination made by any of our employees, clients, barristers, experts or other third parties and will take action where appropriate. All complaints are investigated in accordance with our Grievance Procedure or Complaints Procedure and the complainant will be informed of the outcome. We also monitor the number and outcome of complaints of discrimination.
We monitor and record equality and diversity information about employees and partners on the basis of age, race, gender and disability. We monitor, at least annually:
- Recruitment and selection (applicants and existing staff including partners);
- Promotion and transfer;
- Terms and conditions of employment;
- Take up of benefits;
- Grievance and disciplinary procedures; and
- Resignations, redundancies, and dismissals.
We provide equality and diversity information to the Legal Services Commission as required in relation to employees and clients under the terms of the LAA Contracts. We also provide equality and diversity information to the SRA.
We will store equal opportunities data as confidential personal data and restrict access to this information. Equal opportunities information will be used for exclusively for the purposes of equal opportunities monitoring.
We will review the operation of this Policy not less than twice a year (or more regularly if we identify any non-compliance or problem concerning equality and diversity issues with clients or employees). We will take remedial action if we discover non-compliance under this policy or barriers to equal opportunities. When reviewing the policy we will consider the outcome of monitoring and review actions under our Communications Plan and our Equality & Diversity Training Plan.
For any further information or guidance on the content of this Policy, please speak to the Practice Manager.