Q&A1 April 2021
We have made changes to the questions used to monitor socio-economic background, the ethnicity, sex and gender identity questions and minor changes to the religion or belief and sexual orientation questions.
- We have kept the same three questions we used in 2019 to measure socio-economic background but have changed the wording to align with the Social Mobility Commission guidance published in November 2020.
- We have changed the wording of our questions on sex and gender after considering the research undertaken by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in preparation for the 2021 Census and listening to a range of voices on the matter. We appreciate there are many strongly held views on these issues. We understand why the ONS uses a binary sex question which requires people to select male or female as per their legal documents. We felt that for us, a more inclusive approach was appropriate, so we have provided a third option for the sex question for those who do not identify as male or female. We have aligned the gender identity question with the wording used in the Census 2021.
- We have aligned our ethnicity question with the Census 2021 by adding Roma as a subcategory for the White group and removing White/Chinese as a subcategory for the Mixed/multiple ethnic background group.
- We have made minor changes to the wording of the sexual orientation and religion or belief question, removing reference to straight for those who select heterosexual and removing reference to Atheist in the option for those who select no religion or belief.
We hope you will use the new questions but understand that a minority of firms may not be able to update their systems in time for reporting in late summer 2021.
You will still be able to report your data to us if you have used the 2019 questionnaire by aligning your data to the new questions. We will provide guidance on how to align the data in the user guide for reporting your data which we will publish when the portal is ready.
The questionnaire we used in 2019 is still still available.
No. The requirement to collect, report and publish diversity data only applies to law firms regulated by the SRA.
If they work for more than one firm, they must only complete one questionnaire.
This should be for the firm where they do the majority of their work and spend most of their time. If they work for a number of firms on an equal basis, they should complete the questionnaire for the one they have been working for the longest.
Yes, but only those who are contracted for three months or longer with you.
It does not matter whether they are paid through invoices or through the payroll. Consultants should be included within the appropriate role category as if they were employees.
Yes, if they are regulated by us. You can link them to the main firm to form a group. This means you only need to collect and report one set of diversity data for all firms in the group.
Yes, there are a number of companies who offer this service. Please remember that you will still need to report your firm diversity data to us.
The data you provide in mySRA and the data you provide to your law firm are both important in helping us promote diversity in the profession and in the work that we do.
The information you provide in mySRA is personal to you and cannot be entered for you by your firm. We use this information for reporting, research and evaluation and it helps us improve how we regulate, making sure we are fair and inclusive in how we develop and apply our regulatory processes.
The data you provide to your firm, which the firm reports to us every two years, covers everyone at the firm (not just solicitors) and is reported to us anonymously. We use this to create a detailed picture of diversity in law firms but cannot use it to monitor the diversity of a particular group within the profession.
No, you must consider whether the data protection legislation prevents you from doing this.
However there may be ways to minimise this risk, see our publishing guidance for more information.
No, if you decide that you cannot publish some or all of your diversity data you do not need to apply for any exemption or waiver.
You may wish to record your decision so that you can tell us why, if we ask you about this.
This is a regulatory requirement and we expect every firm to comply. Where firms do not provide the information, we may have to take further action.
You must give people an opportunity to respond, but you cannot compel anyone to provide their diversity information.
To encourage people to respond you should explain the purpose of the survey and reassure them about confidentiality.
If someone is concerned about answering a question, they will be able to select "prefer not to say".
Stonewall provides excellent guidance for employers in their workplace guide Using monitoring data: making the most of sexual orientation data collection. This advice is helpful across all areas of diversity monitoring.
Yes. The requirement to collect, report and publish diversity data is set out in rule 1 of the Code of Conduct for Firms and is an important part of upholding SRA Principle 6 which is to "act in a way that encourages equality, diversity and inclusion" Monitoring the diversity of people working in your firm will help you assess whether your firm is diverse and whether you could do more to encourage equality, diversity and inclusion. You can compare your firm's data with the diversity of other firms like yours using our firm diversity tool.
For more advice about equality, diversity and inclusion please see: