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Solicitors Regulation Authority makes strides in embedding equality and diversity

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has developed strong relationships with equality groups, wider access to the profession and employs an increasingly diverse workforce, according to a progress report just released.

The report, which looks at the organisation's key achievements in equality and diversity, highlights some major milestones which have taken place under the regulator’s Equality and Diversity Strategy to address concerns raised by Lord Ouseley in his 2008 report including:-

as a regulator:-

  • encouraging access to the profession through initiatives such as piloting work-based learning as an alternative to the traditional training contract, and reviewing the Legal Practice Course to meet the needs of different students
  • monitoring regulatory decisions to understand and tackle any disproportionality in relation to Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) solicitors
  • raising the SRA’s profile by meeting the profession and key equality groups at roadshows and focus group meetings
  • issuing an information leaflet to the profession to remind them of their obligations under the Code of Conduct and the law relating to equality and diversity
  • including equality and diversity requirements in the procurement process which resulted in a more diverse range of firms applying to the disciplinary panel.

and as an employer:-

  • ensuring that Board and Committee members receive equality and diversity training and understand the impact on decision-making
  • increasing the number of female employees with senior roles (14%)
  • providing a generous, flexible benefits package to attract and retain female employees (99.1% of maternity returnees retained)
  • raising the percentage of BME employees from 9 to 14%
  • training staff to understand how equality and diversity impacts on their roles and responsibilities

Mehrunnisa Lalani, Director of Inclusion, said: "We are extremely proud of the achievements made over the past two years and this report catalogues a number of successes both in our relationship with the profession and in the diversity of our staff.

"We recognise that we need to sustain this momentum and continue to improve and we are working to make sure that equality and diversity is a key driver for new decisions and policies we are making behind the changes taking place in the legal landscape with the introduction of outcomes-focused regulation and alternative business structures.

"Moving forward we will continue to engage and consult with the profession, ensure that we have a clearer picture of the needs of consumers, and provide staff with the necessary support and development to embed equality and diversity principles into their work.

"We would like to encourage our stakeholders to respond to our latest consultation on the Equality Framework and Engagement Strategy so that we can use the feedback to help us build on our success and improve our performance."

The SRA’s Equality Framework and Stakeholder Engagement Strategy consultation which opened on 8 March and closes on 8 June 2011, is available at www.sra.org.uk/sra/consultations.page

 

Note to editors

Equality and Diversity is a priority in the SRA’s Strategic Plan as the organisation goes through massive internal and external changes to realise its vision of being an employer and regulator of choice, and to tackle the changes in the legal market coming into force this autumn. See www.sra.org.uk/sra/equality-diversity.page for more information.
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