Step 1 – establish purpose

Establishing your purpose for advancing diversity and inclusion (D&I) is a crucial step. You will need to continually refer to this as you communicate, review and refine your D&I strategy and actions.

1.1 Rationale

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

Further resources

These two articles warn against an oversimplified approach to the business case and highlight the multiple factors organisations should consider:

1.2. Engagement

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

Further resources

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:

1.3 Data

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:
    • recruitment
    • leavers
    • learning and development
    • promotion
    • rewards
    • appraisals
    • 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?

Measuring improvement

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.

Measuring inclusion

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.

When benchmarking:

Actions to communicate your data findings

1.4 Checkpoint

Checkbox Checkpoint Are you clear about your firm’s rationale for pursuing D&I? Are you satisfied senior leaders and managers understand and can clearly articulate the rationale?

Checkbox Checkpoint Have you engaged with the key stakeholders (those who set the tone and culture of the firm, control resources or act as champions for D&I)?

Checkbox Checkpoint Have you established what D&I data is currently collected and what is missing? Are you able to capture D&I data on key HR processes?

Checkbox Checkpoint Have you taken steps to improve response rates to D&I data collection?

Checkbox Checkpoint Have you analysed your data to understand where inequalities arise?

Checkbox Checkpoint Have you created opportunities for employees to share their experiences and views on D&I in the firm, including in confidential or anonymous ways? Are you capturing and analysing this feedback in a structured way?

Checkbox Checkpoint Have you considered conducting surveys to measure inclusion?

Checkbox Checkpoint Have you benchmarked your data against other law firms and the wider working population? Have you looked at wider research on D&I in the profession?

Checkbox Checkpoint Do you have a clear narrative from your data analysis to guide the firm on where the focus needs to be to improve D&I? Have you communicated it to leaders and other key stakeholders?

Download the checklist (PDF 135 KB)

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Ornate curved staircase leading to Law Society Library in 113 Chancery Lane: stained glass window and gold-framed portraits with central marble pillar
Ornate curved staircase leading to Law Society Library in 113 Chancery Lane: stained glass window and gold-framed portraits with central marble pillar