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.

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