Step 1 – establish purpose
What does establishing your rationale mean?
Establishing your organisation’s rationale for D&I means articulating clearly why your organisation needs to act.
Your rationale is likely to be based on a combination of business, social or ethical drivers. It may vary for different parts of the business.
Why is a rationale important?
Without a clear and specific rationale, it will be difficult for D&I to become a key consideration in decision-making. A rationale will help you to prioritise and resource D&I activities, and make decisions on how wider business is conducted.
The rationale needs to be widely understood and clearly communicated on a regular basis, particularly by leaders.
It can be articulated in many forms, whether in a standalone document or woven into everyday communications and presentations.
Actions for building your rationale
These two articles warn against an oversimplified approach to the business case and highlight the multiple factors organisations should consider:
What is engaging key stakeholders?
Engaging key stakeholders is about gaining understanding and buy-in from relevant groups to help deliver D&I.
Key stakeholders are those who have:
- influence in setting tone or culture
- control or access to the necessary resources for delivery
- insights to share and experience of championing D&I
Why is engaging key stakeholders important?
Engaging key stakeholders is critical to the success of D&I. D&I requires a collective effort and no one person can be in every room.
You will need different stakeholder groups to perform different functions. For example:
- senior leaders – needed to advocate, prioritise D&I in the overall strategy, allocate resource and be role models for inclusive behaviour
- managers of processes and teams – needed for regular communication and operational delivery through everyday processes and management of people and resources
- representatives from diverse backgrounds – needed to ensure diverse perspectives are being included at the earliest stage
Actions for engaging key stakeholders
The fourth truth in this article addresses why middle managers matter and includes tips for engaging them:
This article provides a perspective on how to engage those in majority groups:
What is D&I data?
To most people, D&I data means demographic data from the diversity monitoring surveys. Other valuable sources include:
- data that is embedded within everyday processes, such as:
- learning and development
- staff survey scores
- qualitative data in the form of feedback, issues and ideas captured by a range of platforms, such as:
- focus groups
- survey comments
- exit interviews
- D&I meetings
- everyday conversations
Why is collecting data important?
Shaping and strengthening the rationale
Demographic data gives you clear evidence on how diverse you are as a firm. Qualitative comments provide insight into experiences and culture within the firm. Both help build the motivation to act.
Shining a light on inequalities within everyday processes
Data will reveal any biased outcomes from processes that appear open to all. It helps identify where the focus needs to be. For example, is it at the application, shortlisting or selection stage of recruitment?
Without measurement, successful D&I initiatives will not get recognised and it will be hard to reflect and learn to improve.
As a D&I communication resource
Collecting D&I data is an opportunity to share your rationale for action, explain terminology and build confidence and consistency in discussing D&I matters.
Compliance with SRA requirements
The SRA requires all regulated firms, regardless of size to collect, report and publish their diversity data every two years. Learn about the SRA's requirements.
Actions for collecting, analysing and reporting data
Collecting qualitative data
For smaller population groups or if you are a smaller firm, demographic data will be limited and qualitative data will be an important alternative source for insights.
If you are a larger firm, demographic data will give you the bones, but qualitative data will put flesh on them.
Some organisations carry out regular audits or surveys using indicators to assess inclusion and psychological safety at work. These can focus on things like:
- are people welcoming of difference or are people sometimes rejected for being different?
- how often have they experienced or witnessed incidents of bullying or harassment, and do they feel comfortable reporting or challenging such behaviour?
- how comfortable do people feel in sharing their ideas with others?
- are mistakes held against them or is the focus on learning and improvement?
- how easy is it to ask others for help or raise a problem or difficult issue?
Results of such surveys should be broken down by demographic group. Surveys should be carried out and analysed regularly, as views can change more frequently than demographic data.
Actions for benchmarking data
The SRA incorporates the data it collects into its law firm diversity data tool.
This tool allows you to compare your firm against the rest of the sector and breaks down data by region and area of firm practice. It also allows you to compare all staff or segment the data by partners, solicitors, all lawyers, and other staff.
Actions to communicate your data findings
- Data requirements and law firm diversity data tool for benchmarking | Solicitors Regulation Authority
- Census 2021: topic summaries on demographic diversity | Office for National Statistics
- Inclusion health-checker tool | CIPD
Advice on how to manage the data protection risk when processing sensitive data, including D&I data:
Advice and guidance on collecting and using data on socio-economic background:
Jason Ku from Pirical discusses how data analysis and benchmarking triggered action to address race and ethnicity gaps in law firms:
We've produced or supported a range of research that provides additional insights on D&I:
- Race for inclusion: the experiences of Black, Asian and minority ethnic solicitors
- Pride in the law: experiences of the LGBT+ community within the legal profession
- Legally disabled? The career experiences of disabled people working in the legal profession
- Influencing for impact: the need for gender equality in the legal profession