Research undertaken by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (England and Wales) aims to shed light on what is being done, and what can be done, to improve the representation of female and black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) solicitors in senior roles such as partners or directors.
The aim of the research was to understand what is being done, and what can be done, to improve the representation of female and black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) solicitors in senior roles such as partners or directors. A diverse and inclusive profession is important to the SRA and the firms it regulates as it benefits both the providers and consumers of legal services. This is true at all levels of seniority within law firms.
Findings show that men are more likely to be working in a higher paid role in a larger firm and are more likely to be a partner/manager. There is also an under-representation of BAME individuals in larger firms including at partner/manager level. Although real changes have been made over the last ten years with increasing numbers of female and BAME solicitors entering the profession, there is some concern that firms are not benefiting from the recruitment and retention of the most talented individuals, irrespective of their gender and ethnicity. This has an adverse financial and cultural impact on firms.
The approach the researchers took was to gather qualitative information from firms and individuals about career progression and diversity and inclusion. The review looks at the various drivers and motivations behind these career choices.
The overall picture is that firms have introduced several different practices to help improve diversity at senior levels. There were mixed views from respondents and interviewees about the success of some of these initiatives. The report highlights some good examples of what firms can do to achieve this. Some of the highlighted examples require large amounts of resource and commitment that will not be available to all firms. However, the report also aims to show that developing an inclusive culture is not just about money. There are many things that all firms can do without going to a great deal of time or expense. The firm’s attitude is the most important thing here.