1. This is the Equality and Diversity Policy for Drystone Chambers (“Chambers”) which supersedes all earlier equal opportunities polices
2. Chambers is committed to equality and diversity at the Bar, creating an organisation which reflects the diversity of the communities we serve, prevents unlawful discrimination and harassment, ensures equality of opportunity, promotes and celebrates diversity and fosters an inclusive culture for all our people.
3. Preventing discrimination and harassment and ensuring equality of opportunity require that nobody is treated less favourably because of their age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation (“Protected Characteristics”).
4. We will ensure equality of opportunity for those working at all levels within Chambers including members, employees and pupils and those applying to become members, pupils, mini-pupils and employees by adopting and promoting policies, processes and procedures designed to ensure fair treatment at all stages of recruitment, practice or employment.
5. We are committed to increasing diversity within Chambers with key goals to increase the recruitment of women and expand the representation of minority and underrepresented groups. The steps we intend to take to achieve our goals are set out in our Equality Action Plan.
6. It is of fundamental importance to Chambers that we create and maintain a culture which actively encourages dignity at work, respect for all and ensures that:
a) all of our people have an equal opportunity to contribute and influence the workplace and achieve their potential;
b) everyone feels safe and can be themselves; and
c) we all have a sense of connection and belonging.
7. This policy sets out Chambers’ broad principles and procedures for the promotion of equality, diversity and inclusion. It also has an Equality Action Plan which identifies the steps being taken to implement this policy along with a number of specific supporting policies.
8. This policy applies to members, employees, pupils, mini-pupils, consultants, contractors, casual and agency staff who are reminded that the responsibility for unlawful discrimination rests not only with Chambers but individuals personally. Everyone should ensure that they do not unlawfully discriminate or assist others to do so.
9. This policy does not form part of any employee’s contract of employment and Chambers may amend it at any time.
10. Breaches of this policy will be dealt with in accordance with the relevant disciplinary procedure.
11. Chambers’ Equality and Diversity Officer (EDO) is Christopher Wing. The EDO is responsible for:
a) monitoring changes in legislation and advising on any updates to Chambers’ equality policies and procedures;
b) promotion of this policy within Chambers and externally where appropriate;
c) analysis and review of equal opportunity monitoring data;
d) co-ordination of the annual equality review;
e) ensuring that Chambers has an Equality Action Plan and complies with its regulatory and legal obligations; and
f) dealing with complaints raised by pupils and mini-pupils in accordance with the Pupillage Policy.
12. The Diversity Data Officer (DDO) is Russell Burton-Lawrence. The Diversity Data Officer is responsible for the collection of workforce diversity data at the times and in the manner set out in the BSB Handbook from members, pupils and staff and its publication on Chambers’ website. The Diversity Data Officer is also responsible for the collection of diversity data collected during the recruitment process for advertised tenancy, staff positions and mini-pupillage.
13. The Pupillage Committee are responsible for analysing the diversity data collected via the Pupillage Gateway in respect of applications for pupillage.
14. The Clerking Team are responsible for ensuring the correct logging and fair distribution of unallocated work to pupils and tenants which will be monitored by the Equality & Diversity Officer and Chambers Administrator.
15. The EDO is responsible for ensuring the effective implementation of this policy and that appropriate equality, diversity and inclusion training and education is made available to staff, members of Chambers and pupils. This will include fair recruitment training for recruitment panels, training for members who wish to become pupil supervisors, refresher training for existing pupil supervisors equality and diversity training and anti-bullying and harassment training.
16. Everyone in Chambers is responsible for:
a) understanding and complying with this policy;
b) applying the policy in dealings with all internal and external customers and colleagues and in all aspects of our day-to-day business;
c) promoting equality and diversity in Chambers.
Legal and Regulatory Framework
17. The legislative framework is set out in the Equality Act 2010. In addition Core Duty 8 of the BSB Handbook states: “You must not discriminate unlawfully against any other person.” This is supplemented by rC12 which expands and clarifies:
“You must not discriminate unlawfully against, victimise or harass any other person on the grounds of race, colour, ethnic or national origin, nationality, citizenship, sex, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, marital or civil partnership status, disability, age, pregnancy and maternity, religion or belief.”
18. You must not unlawfully discriminate against or harass other people including members of Chambers, employees, pupils and mini-pupils (whether they are currently within Chambers, have previously left or are applying to join), clients, customers, suppliers and visitors. This applies in the workplace, outside the workplace (when dealing with clients, suppliers or other work-related contacts), and on work-related trips or events including social events.
19. The following forms of discrimination are prohibited under this policy and are unlawful:
a) Direct discrimination: treating someone less favourably because of a Protected Characteristic. For example, rejecting a job applicant because of their race.
b) Indirect discrimination: a provision, criterion or practice that applies to everyone but adversely affects people with a particular Protected Characteristic more than others and is not justified. For example, requiring a job to be done full-time rather than part time is likely to adversely affect women because they generally have greater childcare commitments than men. Such a requirement is discriminatory unless it is justified.
c) Harassment: this includes sexual harassment and other unwanted conduct related to a Protected Characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating someone’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. Harassment is dealt with further in Chambers’ Anti-harassment and Bullying Policy.
d) Victimisation: retaliation against someone who has complained or has supported someone else’s complaint about discrimination or harassment.
e) Disability discrimination: this includes direct and indirect discrimination, any unjustified less favourable treatment because of the effects of a disability, and failure to make reasonable adjustments to alleviate disadvantages caused by a disability.
Equality of Opportunity
20. Equality of opportunity means that equal work and employment opportunities are afforded to all those working within Chambers and those applying to join. Those opportunities must be conducted without unlawful discrimination and include:
a) the selection process;
b) the terms upon which tenancy, pupillage or employment are offered or refused and the terms upon which any benefits or facilities are afforded to those individuals;
c) access to opportunities for training, promotion and career development;
d) dismissal of employees, termination of pupillage or expulsion of members, both in relation to the manner and the reasons;
e) all dealings with or on behalf of Chambers or members, pupils, mini-pupils and employees; and
f) ensuring that no individual is victimised for complaining in good faith about discrimination or harassment or supporting someone else’s complaint.
g) If any member, pupil, employee or visitor to Chambers is disabled (or in the case of those within the workforce becomes disabled) they are encouraged to tell us about their condition so that appropriate support can be provided. We will discuss any reasonable adjustments to help overcome or minimise the difficulty. For more information and who to contact please see our Reasonable Adjustments Policy here.
Recruitment & Selection
21. Recruitment, promotion and other selection exercises such as redundancy selection will be conducted on the basis of merit, against objective criteria that avoid discrimination. Shortlisting should be done by more than one person if possible. For pupillage, this selection will be effected by a Pupillage and Recruitment Committee, otherwise the Constitution is to apply.
22. Vacancies should generally be advertised to a diverse section of the labour market. Advertisements should avoid stereotyping or using wording that may discourage particular groups from applying.
23. Job applicants should not be asked questions which might suggest an intention to discriminate on grounds of a Protected Characteristic. For example, applicants should not be asked whether they are pregnant or planning to have children.
24. Job applicants should not be asked about health or disability before a job offer is made, except in the very limited circumstances allowed by law: for example, to check that the applicant could perform an intrinsic part of the job (taking account of any reasonable adjustments), or to see if any adjustments might be needed at interview because of a disability. Where necessary, job offers can be made conditional on a satisfactory medical check. Health or disability questions may be included in equal opportunities monitoring forms, which must not be used for selection or decision-making purposes.
25. We are required by law to ensure that all employees are entitled to work in the UK. Assumptions about immigration status should not be made based on appearance or apparent nationality. All prospective employees, regardless of nationality, must be able to produce original ‘Right to Work’ documents (such as passport) before employment starts, to satisfy current immigration legislation. The list of acceptable documents is available from UK Visas and Immigration.
Fair Access to Work and the Allocation of Unassigned Work
26. The allocation of unassigned (unnamed) work to all members of Chambers and working pupils will be carried out in a manner that is fair to all and without discrimination. Selection of counsel will be on the basis of the skills and experience required for the particular case. In particular, no pupil or tenant shall suffer unlawful discrimination:
a) in the arrangements made for determining who work should be allocated to; or
b) in respect of any terms on which work is offered, or by a refusal, or deliberate omission, to offer it to them.
27. Where a member of Chambers or pupil perceives the distribution is not fair, they are encouraged to address this with a Senior Practice Manager or the Equality and Diversity Officer.
Promoting equality, diversity and inclusion
28. Chambers takes steps to encourage applications from underrepresented groups within Chambers and people from less advantaged social backgrounds. Where appropriate we also commit to positive action to redress imbalances or inequalities in Chambers. Positive action is not the same as positive discrimination, reverse discrimination or the setting of quotas all of which are illegal. Our Equality Action Plan sets out the initiatives which Chambers supports to promote and enhance equality, diversity and inclusion.
29. Everyone should be aware that use of outdated language to describe certain Protected Characteristics can cause offence, albeit unintentionally. This language evolves over time and in some cases rapidly. Chambers ask that everyone considers the language that they use and, if in doubt, ask the specific individual their preference.
30. Chambers is working towards the use of gender-neutral language in its policies, recruitment materials, marketing materials and website.
31. Those working within Chambers are required to respect everyone’s choice of their own pronouns.
32. To ensure that this policy is operating effectively, and to identify groups that may be underrepresented or disadvantaged in Chambers, we monitor applicants’ diversity data as part of the recruitment process, in addition to diversity data regarding current members of Chambers, employees, pupils and mini-pupils. Provision of this information is voluntary and it will not adversely affect an individual’s chances of recruitment or any other decision related to their work within Chambers. The information is removed from applications before shortlisting and kept in an anonymised format solely for the purposes stated in this policy. Analysing this data helps us take appropriate steps to avoid discrimination and improve equality and diversity.
33. The Bar Standard Board (BSB) set rules for the profession on the gathering and publication of workforce equality data. In accordance with the BSB’s Handbook all members of Chambers and staff are given the opportunity to provide their diversity data for collection although there is no obligation to do so. The Diversity Data Officer is responsible for the collection, publication and retention and destruction of diversity data, full details of which are set out in our Diversity Data Policy.
34. The EDO is responsible for ensuring the effective implementation of this policy and conducts a regular review to ensure that the policy complies with the BSB Handbook Rules. The EDO is responsible for taking any remedial action in response to their review, where necessary.
Communication of this policy
35. All members of Chambers, pupils and employees are provided with access to this policy. This policy is also promoted and easily accessible via Chambers’ website.
Queries, concerns, complaints or grievances
36. Any general queries or concerns in respect of this policy or any other equality and diversity policies should be raised with the EDO.
37. Specific concerns, complaints or grievances should be raised formally or informally using the procedure set out in the relevant policy or in the absence of such a procedure, under the relevant grievance procedure.