Equality & Diversity Policy
We are committed to eliminating unlawful discrimination and to promoting equality and diversity within our policies, practices and procedures. This applies to our professional dealings with clients, staff and other parties. The name of the Firm’s appointed Equality and Diversity Representative can be found in the Table of Key Roles in Chapter 12.
The Firm treats everyone equally with the same attention, courtesy and respect regardless of:
- sex (including pregnancy, maternity and paternity)
- marital or civil partnership status
- gender reassignment
- sexual orientation
- race or racial group (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins)
- religion or belief
- age (or perceived age)
- caring responsibility
- disability (past or present)
The firm takes all reasonable steps to ensure that the Firm and its staff do not unlawfully discriminate under:
- the Equality Act 2010
- the Employment Rights Act 1996
- the Human Rights Act 1998
- the Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000
- the Fixed-Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000
- the Work and Families Act 2006
- the Civil Partnership Act 2004
- any other relevant legislation in force from time to time relating to discrimination in employment and the provision of goods, facilities or services
Wherever possible, the Firm will promote equal opportunity in relation to access to the legal services that the Firm provides taking account of the diversity of the communities that the Firm serves, ensuring where possible accessible services to all clients. The Firm’s Communication Plan is available on the website and can be provided to clients on request along with a copy of this Policy.
The Firm is committed to meeting the diverse needs of clients. The Firm takes steps to identify the needs of the clients in the community and takes account, in particular, the needs of clients with a disability and clients who are unable to communicate effectively in English. In particular, the Firm makes reasonable adjustments to ensure that clients with a disability, vulnerability or particular need are not placed at a substantial disadvantage and do not pass on the costs of adjustments to these clients. The Firm considers whether particular groups are predominant within our client base, and where possible, ensures that their needs are met.
Experts and Third Parties
The Firm does not unlawfully discriminate in dealing with experts and third parties. All experts and third parties are instructed from an approved register and have been assessed as being capable of meeting both our Firm’s and our client’s requirements. Experts and third parties are instructed because they satisfy our selection criteria.
Job Applicants and Personnel
The Firm treats all job applicants equally and fairly and does not unlawfully discriminate against them. We operate an open and fair recruitment process using selection criteria which does not discriminate and make decisions based on individual qualities and personal merit. Recruitment and promotion within the Firm is made solely on merit.
The Firm considers all employees to be equal and creates a working environment which is free from unlawful discrimination. This applies equally to voluntary positions and anyone undertaking work experience with us. This will, for example, include arrangements for employment, recruitment and selection, terms and conditions of employment, access to training opportunities, conditions of service, access to promotion and transfers, grievance and disciplinary processes dress code, work allocation and any other employment-related activities.
In particular, in accordance with our Flexible Working Policy, the Firm actively considers the making of reasonable workplace adjustments to ensure that staff members with a disability, vulnerability or particular need are fully supported and not put at a substantial disadvantage compared to other staff. The Firm will monitor the physical features of our premises to improve access and working arrangements for all staff but staff members who experience any difficulties at work are encouraged to raise these issues as soon as possible in accordance with our Flexible Working Policy.
The Firm will monitor and record, at least annually, equality and diversity information about job applicants and existing staff including key personnel on the basis of gender, age, disability and ethnic groups.
In addition to the monitoring undertaken as set out above, the Firm also annually monitors the number of employees from different gender, disability, age, ethnic groups by grade when:
- already employed in a particular post
- applying for a post
- taking up training and development opportunities
- a grievance is raised
- disciplined and dismissed
- leaving employment
All monitoring data will be reviewed by the Equality and Diversity Representative who will be responsible for:
- implementing remedial action where any under-representation of the groups listed above are identified. In such cases, the Firm will seek professional advice from an employment specialist and/or the Equalities and Human Rights Commission in relation to the appropriate remedial action to be taken. It is recognised that such remedial action could include the identification of specific training needs and/or the taking of positive action to increase employee diversity
- implementing and monitoring our Equality and Diversity Policy
- ensuring that adequate resources are available to meet equality and diversity needs
- providing equality and diversity information to the Legal Aid Agency as required in relation to staff and clients under the terms of the LAA contracts
- reporting to the CEO on compliance
- promoting a culture of equality and diversity awareness and compliance by means of education and training and overseeing arrangements for the sharing of information on equality and diversity
- providing assistance to any individual staff members who have been assigned responsibility for any specific equality and diversity actions
- considering whether reasonable adjustments need to be made for clients, third parties and staff members. Requests for adjustments and flexible working arrangements are considered in accordance with our Flexible Working Policy
- ensuring that appropriate action is taken in relation to non-compliance identified under this policy or barriers to equal opportunities
- reviewing this policy annually to verify it is in effective operation
- consulting with the workforce on issues in relation to equality and diversity should they arise
The Firm will provide all candidates selected for interview with an equal opportunities monitoring form. The form will be returned to the email address firstname.lastname@example.org being a secure and private email address. The completed forms will then form part of the Firm’s annual review of equality and diversity within the practice.
All staff members are informed of this policy as part of their induction. All staff will undertake equality and diversity training on an annual basis, wherever possible. This includes the provision of regular updated training on compliance with equality and diversity requirements. Our equality and diversity training and communication objectives are reviewed at least annually.
All staff are expected to pay due regard to the provisions of this policy, the Principles of the SRA’s Standards & Regulations and have personal responsibility for ensuring compliance with them when undertaking their jobs or representing our Firm and which extends to their treatment of job applicants, existing or former employees, clients, external suppliers and/or visitors.
Managers and supervisors will consult with the Head of HR and the Equality and Diversity Representative on issues relating to equality and diversity including:
- recruitment and selection
- training promotion
- disciplinary matters
The Firm treats seriously all complaints of unlawful discrimination made by any of our staff, clients, barrister, experts or other third parties and will take action where appropriate. All complaints are investigated by the HR Department in accordance with our Grievance Procedure or Complaints Procedure and the complainant will be informed of the outcome.
Where acts of unlawful discrimination, harassment or victimisation and/or failure to comply with this Policy by any member of staff is identified, the HR Department will ensure that our Disciplinary Procedure is followed and this may result in disciplinary action being taken.
You can also view the Cartwright King Gender Pay Gap Report here.
Reviewed February 2021