Scope of this policy
This policy sets out our approach to equal opportunities and the avoidance of discrimination at work. It applies to all aspects of working with and for us, including the working relationships with:
- our colleagues (including recruitment, pay and conditions, training, appraisals, promotion, conduct at work, disciplinary and grievance procedures, the working environment generally as well as termination of employment);
- our clients, such as how we take on new clients and work;
- suppliers of goods and services to us and to our clients, including instructing barristers and experts;
- third parties and their representatives.
It applies to all staff and also informs of our development of policies and procedures and our operational practices.
We are committed to eliminating discrimination and encouraging diversity in all aspects of our business. We and all of our staff will respect diversity and promote equality of opportunity. We shall treat everyone we encounter in our work fairly and with respect, regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marital and civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race, colour, ethnic origin, nationality and national origin, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation (‘Protected Characteristics’).
We are committed to making reasonable adjustments for clients and staff (including those applying to join our team) with a disability to ensure that they are not placed at a substantial disadvantage compared to those who are not disabled. We will not make a charge to our staff or our clients for an adjustment we make for them. In particular and where appropriate, we are happy to:
- visit clients at home if our premises are not accessible to them due to a physical limitation;
- offer different options for communicating with individuals who have a visual, speech or hearing impairment, including arranging signing facilities;
- for clients whose first language is not English, facilitate and support access to interpretative and translative support as far as possible.
We shall also take care to ensure that our communications (our website in particular) are provided in an accessible format.
We as a business will never discriminate unlawfully or bully, victimise or harass anyone and we will not tolerate such behaviour from our staff. As a business we will also take steps to train our staff and raise awareness to prevent unlawful discrimination, bullying, harassment or victimisation. If any problems are identified we will act promptly and effectively to resolve them.
The following forms of discrimination are prohibited under this policy and are unlawful:
- Direct discrimination: treating someone less favourably because of a Protected Characteristic. For example, rejecting a job applicant because of their religious views or because they might be gay.
- Indirect discrimination: a provision, criterion or practice that applies to everyone but adversely affects people with a particular Protected Characteristic more than others, and is not justified. For example, requiring a job to be done full-time rather than part-time would adversely affect women because they generally have greater childcare commitments than men. Such a requirement could be discriminatory unless it can be justified.
- Harassment: this includes sexual harassment and other unwanted conduct related to a Protected Characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating someone’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them.
- Victimisation: retaliation against someone who has complained or has supported someone else’s complaint about discrimination or harassment.
- Disability discrimination: this includes direct and indirect discrimination, any unjustified less favourable treatment because of the effects of a disability, and failure to make reasonable adjustments to alleviate disadvantages caused by a disability.
We hope to go beyond the basic legal requirements in this area and create a business in which individual differences are valued.
We will make this policy available to our clients and others on our website. It is made available to our staff by its inclusion in our office manual. We encourage clients and suppliers in particular to engage with us about any concerns which they have about delivering on the commitments we make in this policy.
Recruitment and selection
Recruitment, promotion and other selection exercises will be conducted on the basis of merit, against objective criteria that avoid discrimination. Shortlisting will be done by more than one person if possible.
Vacancies will generally be advertised to a diverse section of the labour market. Advertisements will avoid stereotyping or using wording that may discourage particular groups from applying.
Job applicants will not be asked questions which might suggest an intention to discriminate on grounds of a Protected Characteristic. For example, applicants will not be asked whether they are pregnant or planning to have children.
Job applicants will not be asked about health or disability before a job offer is made, except in the very limited circumstances allowed by law: for example, to check that the applicant could perform an intrinsic part of the job (taking account of any reasonable adjustments), or to see if any adjustments might be needed at interview because of a disability. Where necessary, job offers can be made conditional on a satisfactory medical check. Health or disability questions may be included in equal opportunities monitoring forms, which will not be used for selection or decision-making purposes.
Part-time and fixed-term work
Part-time and fixed-term employees will be treated the same as comparable full-time or permanent employees and will enjoy no less favourable terms and conditions (on a pro-rata basis where appropriate), unless different treatment is justified.
All staff receive training on our obligations under the Equality Act, the SRA Codes of Conduct and our equality and inclusion values more generally as part of our core training.
We use our quality and standards assurance processes to ensure that our service remains of a high technical and ethical standard. This will include consideration of whether staff are meeting the requirements of this policy and the law in this area.
We believe strongly in the benefits of a diverse workforce. We will periodically monitor the diversity of our workforce in an effort to build a strong and diverse team. We will follow SRA guidance on reporting and publishing our diversity data. Generally speaking, we aim to publish a summary of our diversity data but we will not publish our diversity data unless we can be satisfied that there is no material risk of an individual being identified from the anonymised data.
Serious or persistent failures by any member of staff to satisfy the standards set out in this policy and in law in this area may result in disciplinary action, including in appropriate cases dismissal.
This policy will be reviewed annually by its owner and this shall include an assessment of whether the policy is achieving its goals in practice.