News releases

SRA publishes report on equality and diversity data collection for 2012

At its meeting on 24 April, the SRA Board considered the findings from an equality and diversity thematic review carried out on compliance with Principal 9 together with the report on the 2012 workforce diversity survey for 2012.

The report sets out the findings from the review carried out with 90 firms. The visits were carried out by supervisors from our Supervision function with support from colleagues working in diversity and inclusion. Firms were sent a questionnaire prior to the visit which was used to collect information and evidence from firms on how they were complying with the five equality and diversity outcomes set out in Chapter 2 of the Code of Conduct. These visits also included obtaining feedback from firms about the requirement to collect workforce data.

Findings from the thematic study resulted in a number of case studies which will help to guide the SRA’s approach to firms in the future in encouraging compliance.

Mehrunnisa Lalani, the SRA’s Director of Inclusion said: "Results from the thematic survey revealed some good examples of firms which were proactive in identifying the equality and diversity issues relevant to them and had thought ahead about the needs of their clients.

"Firms will need to be more proactive in their approach to equality and diversity. Compliance with Principle 9 requires more than an equality and diversity policy and no proven complaints of discrimination. The SRA won't be prescriptive, but firms will be expected to have a clear strategy for managing the risks in this area and should monitor their progress and set targets for improvement. The approach need not be complex, nor over-ambitious as long as there is demonstrable evidence that a firm has identified how they are going to achieve compliance with Principle 9 and is implementing that plan in a proportionate way.

"We will review the outcomes and indicative behaviours in Chapter 2 of the Code of Conduct to help firms improve their understanding of our expectations, and to make it clear how the new requirement to collect workforce diversity data fits with Principle 9 and outcomes-focused regulation."

The Board also noted a report on the 2012 diversity data collection which showed that 9,408 firms responded to the SRA’s first diversity data collection survey last year.

Participating firms reported a total of 221,845 people working for them. With 93,074 individuals completing the survey; the average response rate per firm was 42%. 37% of the respondents were solicitors.

The diversity data collection survey was in response to the Legal Service Board’s requirement for all approved regulators to gather a more comprehensive evidence base about the diversity characteristics of the legal workforce. The full results and commentary are published in the report here.

Mehrunnisa Lalani added: "We are making different arrangements for collecting the diversity data this year as we are asking firms to collect the data themselves and report their aggregated firm data online to us. We will be publishing more information on this year’s approach very soon."  

 

Note to editors

*Principle 9 requires regulated firms and individuals to 'promote equality of opportunity and encourage respect for diversity'.

**The Legal Services Board (LSB) set out its expectations of approved regulators in relation to the collection and publication of workforce diversity data at individual firm level in its decision document 'Increasing diversity and social mobility in the legal workforce: transparency and evidence' published in July 2011.  

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