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Diversity and Inclusion Charter

  • Update: Charter review

    The Law Society has started a full review of the Diversity & Inclusion Charter. The aim is to redesign our offer to ensure it is relevant to our members, meaningful and impactful.

    The initial phase of our review will be complete by spring 2019. This means current signatories will not be required to complete their submissions in 2019 (when the next cycle was due to take place). We anticipate the new offer will be fully launched by 2020.

    We encourage everyone to feed into the review process by sharing their insights via a short survey (open until 31st December 2018):

    If you have any questions, please email diversity.charter@lawsociety.org.uk

    The charter was established in 2009 by the Law Society, BT and the Society of Asian Lawyers and is designed to help firms and practices turn their commitment to diversity and inclusion in to positive, practical action for their businesses, staff and clients.

    This is achieved by helping practices to record and measure their practices, policies and procedures against a set of diversity and inclusion standards and by providing them with opportunities to share best practice advice and guidance with colleagues from across the profession.

    As of July 2018, 490 firms and practices have signed up to the charter, representing more than a third of the legal profession in England and Wales.

    Charter statement

    The Diversity and Inclusion Charter is a public commitment by legal practices to promote the values of diversity and inclusion throughout their business. Whether it's through recruitment, retention, career progression or training and development, all our signatories are committed to improving opportunities for people in the legal profession, regardless of their background or circumstances.
    See the charter statement of commitment

    Charter protocols

    The charter is accompanied by a set of protocols designed to help practices fulfil their commitments in several key areas of their business, including reporting and monitoring, flexible working and procuring legal services.
    The protocols are accompanied by checklists, best practice guidance, case studies and toolkits.
    Read more information about the charter protocols.

    Diversity and inclusion standards

    We've developed a set of diversity and inclusion standards to help our charter signatories with completing their biennial self-assessment form.

    The standards help to show how well a legal practice is complying with equality legislation, regulation and Lexcel equality and diversity standards. They also cover other areas of business to ensure that positive diversity and inclusion standards exist throughout the practice.

    Free to all charter signatories, the diversity and inclusion standards are accompanied by best practice guidance. This document provides charter signatories with examples of positive diversity and inclusion practices, as well as advice on where to get more help or information.

    Diversity Charter Biennial Report

    Firms and practices who sign up to the charter are required to participate in the Law Society's Diversity and Inclusion Biennial Report, which show how well they are meeting their charter commitments and where more work still needs to be done.

    Signatories to the charter complete an online, easy to use self-assessment exercise against the equality and diversity standards within the reporting tool. These results are then published in aggregate and used to identify trends, successes and areas for improvement for the year ahead.

    The statistics quoted in this report reflect the composition of the organisations of the charter signatories who submitted a return. Statistics representing the whole profession can be found on the SRA website.

    As one of the earliest industry-specific benchmarking exercises, we know the current Charter needs reviewing so as to be fully representative of the diversity of our membership. That is why we intended to fully design it to make this tool as useful, meaningful and relevant as possible.

    If you have been directly involved in charter submissions in the past and are interested in helping us with the review of this tool, please email diversityteam@lawsociety.org.uk.

    Summary of the 2017 Diversity and Inclusion Biennial Report

    The Law Society Diversity and Inclusion Charter, launched in 2009, has 467 signatories, ranging from small family firms through to the largest global legal practices.

    Key findings from signatory firms in the 2017 report

    Going from strength to strength

    • This year, more than 210 firms completed the charter self-assessment and more large firms (over 150 organisations) completed the self-assessment.

    Leading from the top

    • Diversity and inclusion is becoming a priority - over 90% of large firms have a partner-level diversity champion.
    • A record-breaking number of firms achieving top marks. 55% of top 100 firms achieved gold status (31% in 2015) and 38% of large firms achieved gold status (23% in 2015).

    Diversity and inclusion is business as usual

    • More firms are getting top marks when it comes to promoting diversity and inclusion in employment, providing legal services to clients, and engaging with the community.
    • Large firms are performing particularly well when demonstrating their commitment to inclusion in the procurement process. 82% of large firms tell us they have an aspiration to work with a diverse range of suppliers and are actively exploring opportunities to do this.
    • Firms are becoming more transparent and open around diversity. 70% of firms are members of inclusion networks. Firms publishing a diversity and inclusion report increased from 29% in 2015 to 40% in 2017.

    Change is coming

    • Diversity and inclusion initiatives are having an impact on the makeup of the profession.
    • 62% of all solicitors working in signatory firms are women.
    • Solicitors from non-white British backgrounds in signatory firms increased to 27% in 2017. This is broadly in line with the proportion of ethnic minority people in the labour market as a whole.
    • 4% of people working in signatory firms identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. This compares with recent data showing about 2% of the UK population aged 16 and over identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

    Gender identity

    • For the first time ever, participants were asked questions about gender identity.
    • Nearly 3% of staff working in signatory firms consider their gender identity to be different to the one they were assigned at birth. One in five trans workers are solicitors; 6% are partners.
    • Nearly 3% of staff working in signatory firms consider their gender identity to be different to the one they were assigned at birth. One in five trans workers are solicitors; 6% are partners.
    • Firms are beginning to take action on promoting trans equality in the workplace. 30% of firms have a trans equality policy or statement. 28% of firms provide some training or engagement to help staff understand trans issues.

    Other key trends

    • New requirements around gender pay reporting are a consideration for many firms.
    • Firms are thinking about how to combine inclusion approaches with other considerations.
    • Firms aspire to take a more intersectional approach to inclusion.
    • Many firms are moving away from set targets and are exploring how they can create an inclusive workplace culture.

    Registration

    Signing up to the charter is easy. A partner or director sends an email to inclusioncharter@lawsociety.org.uk stating their commitment. Once we have this, we will ask for information from you to ensure that all signatories meet the charter's requirements. We then create an account for the firm.