The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) require all firms that it regulates in an attempt to ensure that the profession is suitably diverse and/or that firms consider diversity when recruiting staff. Each firm is required to collect, report and publish diversity data. Diversity questionnaires are to be completed anonymously by staff, and the results of that survey must be reported to the SRA and published, generally on a firm's website or on their office premises. This is of course subject to a firm's obligations and duties under the Data Protection Act 1998 and the duty of confidentiality owed to staff.
Lucinda Dore Solicitors fully back this initiative, and believe that any law firm should be as diverse as possible, pursue a robust equal opportunities policy and be inclusive and open to all. Lucinda Dore Solicitors have now carried out their diversity surveys. We are proud to confirm that the results of this survey show that our workforce has a good and general mix of staff from ethnic, educational, and socio-economic backgrounds. The firm is also diverse in respect of age and religious beliefs.
Lucinda Dore Solicitors recognises that discrimination and victimisation is unacceptable and that it is in the interests of our firm, our employees and our clients to utilise the skills of the total workforce. It is our aim to ensure that no employee or job applicant receives less favourable facilities or treatment, either directly or indirectly, in recruitment or employment on grounds of age, disability, gender, gender reassignment, marriage/civil partnership, pregnancy/maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation. Our aim is that the workforce be truly representative of all sections of society and each employee feels respected and able to give of their best. We oppose all forms of unlawful and unfair discrimination and victimisation and to that end the purpose of this policy is to provide equality and fairness for all of our employees and clients. Whether part-time, full-time or temporary, our employees will be treated fairly and with respect. Selection for employment, promotion, training or any other benefit will be on the basis of aptitude and ability. All employees will be helped and encouraged to develop their full potential and the talents and resources of the workforce will be fully utilised to maximise the efficiency of the organisation. In the provision of our firm’s services our employees will not discriminate against our clients, either directly or indirectly, or harass them. This policy and the associated arrangements operate in accordance with statutory requirements. In addition, full account will be taken of any guidance or Codes of Practice issued by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, any Government Departments, and any other statutory bodies.
To create an environment in which individual differences and the contributions of all are recognised and valued. Every employee is entitled to a working environment that promotes dignity and respect. No form of intimidation, bullying or harassment will be tolerated. Training, development and progression opportunities are available to all employees. To promote equality in the workplace which we believe is good management practice and makes sound business sense. We will review all our employment practices and procedures to ensure fairness. Breaches of our equality policy will be regarded as misconduct and may lead to disciplinary proceedings. This policy is fully supported by the managing partner, any compliance officers that are instructed or employed by the firm, and all senior employees. The policy will be reviewed annually.
Responsibilities of management
Responsibility for ensuring the effective implementation and operation of these arrangements will rest with the Managing Partner and Compliance Officers who will ensure that they and the staff operate within this policy and that all reasonable and practical steps are taken to avoid discrimination. They will each ensure that: all staff are aware of the policy and the arrangements; all staff understand the reasons for the policy; grievances concerning discrimination are dealt with properly, fairly and as quickly as possible; and proper records are maintained. The Managing Partner and the Compliance Officers will be responsible for monitoring the operation of the policy in respect of employees and job applicants.
Responsibilities of employees
The responsibility for ensuring there is no unlawful discrimination rests with all employees, and employee attitudes are crucial to successful and fair employment practices. All employees should: comply with the policy and arrangements; not discriminate in their day to day activities or induce others to do so; not victimise, harass or intimidate other employees; ensure others do not victimise, harass or intimidate other employees; and inform senior employees if they become aware of any discriminatory practice.
Third-party harassment occurs where an employee is harassed, victimised or intimidated by third parties such as clients. Our firm will not tolerate such actions and any employee encountering such behaviour should report the incident to their immediate manager or supervisor as soon as possible. We will fully investigate reported matters and take all reasonable steps to ensure such harassment does not happen again.
Related policies and arrangements
All employment policies and arrangements have a bearing on equality of opportunity. Our firm policies are reviewed regularly, and any identified discriminatory elements removed.
Rights of disabled people
Our firm attaches particular importance to the needs of disabled people. Under the terms of this policy, the Managing Partner is required to: seek advice and guidance from external agencies where appropriate to maintain disabled people in employment; make a reasonable adjustment to maintain the services of an employee who becomes disabled such as training, provision of special equipment, and reduced working hours; include disabled people in training/development programmes; give full and proper consideration to disabled people who apply for jobs, having regard to making reasonable adjustments for their particular aptitudes and abilities to allow them to be able to do the job.
A series of regular briefing sessions will be held for employees on equality issues. These will be repeated as necessary. Equality information is also included in induction programmes. Further equality training will be provided to senior employees in order to better assist them in managing any issues which may be raised directly with them. All senior employees who have an involvement in the recruitment and selection process will receive relevant pinpoint training.
We will initiate a regular equality analysis review to measure the effectiveness of our firm’s equality and diversity policy. The analysis will involve the routine collection and consideration of employee information such as gender, marital status, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, religion/beliefs, disability, grade, and length of service in current grade. There will also be regular assessments to measure the extent to which recruitment to first appointment, internal promotion and access to training/development opportunities affect equal opportunities for all groups. Where appropriate equality impact assessments will be carried out on the results of this analysis to ascertain the effect of our policies and services. The information collected will be treated as confidential and it will not be used for any other purpose. If monitoring shows that our firm is not representative, or that sections of our workforce are not progressing properly, then an action plan will be developed to address these issues. This will include a review of recruitment and selection procedures, and firm policies.
Grievances and discipline
Discrimination and victimisation will be treated as disciplinary offences and affected employees have a right to pursue a complaint. The process for this is set out in the Workplace Discrimination Bullying and Harassment Policy.
The effectiveness of this policy and the associated arrangements will be reviewed annually by the Managing Partner and the Compliance Officers.