The Women in Law Pledge: Commit to creating a more equal legal profession for all

wilpledge

Alongside the Law Society and CILEX, we are pleased to launch the Women in Law Pledge.

We have created the pledge to tackle the issue of gender equality within the legal profession.

We encourage all legal service providers to sign up. We hope that pledging your commitment to change, and doing so with transparency, will be a vital stepping stone in achieving impactful progress for equality for all.

What will the pledge do?

By signing up for the pledge you or your organisation is committing to:

  • supporting the progression of women into senior roles in the profession by focusing on retention and promotion opportunities

  • setting clear plans and targets around gender equality and diversity for your organisation

  • publishing your action plan and publicly reporting on progress towards achieving your goals

How do I sign up for the pledge?

To commit to the pledge,  download the online application form and return via email to us at Equality@BarCouncil.org.uk 

How does it work?

  • Read the guidance, decide what activity (examples below) you want to make a pledge on and complete the application form

  • Upon receipt of your application, Bar Council will confirm you as a Pledge signatory within 7 days. We will then list your name on our website. We will also send you a media pack with logos/banners etc. that you can use as you wish*

  • Set yourself 'targets' related to any planned activity and then let Bar Council know any targets you wish to set (you have from now until March 2020 to do this if you are signing in the next few months)

  • Email Equality@BarCouncil.org.uk with details of your planned activity and any targets (we will keep them on record and check to see how you have got on 12 months later i.e. March 2021**)

  • Let us know how you are getting on (the first deadline for this is March 2021) and confirm you want to remain signed up to the Pledge/decide on any new activity and/or set yourself new targets.

*You can ask to be removed from the Pledge at any time with a simple email to Equality@BarCouncil.org.uk

**If we don't hear from you 12 months on, we will remove your name from the list of Pledge signatories on the website

NoteOnly Bar Council will hold records of your activity commitments and targets - these will not be shared with any third party.

Ideas for activity and targets for the Bar/chambers

If you want help in identifying suitable activity or targets for your chambers, consider the following suggestions under each of the (7) Pledge commitments* which apply to the Bar:

[Note: The Pledge has 8 commitments but number 8 does not apply to the self-employed Bar and is not required for Bar signatories]

My organisation pledges to promote gender equality by:

1. Having one named member of our senior leadership team/management committee who is accountable for gender diversity and inclusion;

This could be your Head of Chambers, a member of your management or Equality & Diversity Committee, EDO etc. Ideally this person should be a senior member of chambers - of any gender - with influence and a passion for equality.

You could have more than one person if you wish.

2. Setting specific gender targets at leadership level and at other levels as appropriate;  

The type of 'targets' you put in place will very much depend on the current situation in chambers and where you want to focus your activity.

The commitments are not prescriptive of any specific activity - as long as the outcome is positive for gender equality and women.

A 'target' could include for example:

  • Ensuring there is a woman on the management committee (if there isn't onealready!) or increasing the number of women on key chambers' committees (target= number of women on key committees)

  • Actively supporting silk or judicial applications/preparation (target = number ofwomen in silk in chambers)

  • Supporting women in chambers in taking on additional 'career building'/highprofile roles (target = speaking opportunities generated)

3. Considering the differential outcomes for different groups of women at all levels of the organisation e.g. their background, identity or range of experiences

We need to recognise that women of colour, with disabilities or other protected characteristics may face additional disadvantage. The Pledge encourages chambers to start thinking about this.

If appropriate, when you are reviewing e.g. work allocation, receipts, recruitment applications etc. consider comparing the experience/outcomes of e.g. women with a disability; BAME women etc. as part of your reviewing process (accepting numbers may be too small in chambers to draw conclusions).

Consider outcomes for staff too.

If you can establish any meaningful differences, try and understand why - and consider if chambers needs to take any action.

4. Developing an action plan to achieve gender equality in our senior management and leadership teams;

Build on the Action Plan you are already required to create to comply with BSB E&D Rules.

Look at how additional training in e.g. recruitment; education about unconscious bias in clerking practices, a focus on briefing practices, the introduction of mentoring programmes etc. could support the access to chambers and retention/progression of women in chambers.

5. Committing at senior level to tackle sex discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace;

Many chambers have already reviewed their harassment policies and introduced training/codes of behaviour in chambers. Any activity around this agenda will help you evidence your commitment to this pledge.

6. Committing to tackle workplace culture and bias that may result in differential outcomes in the workplace; 

Any activity designed to support an inclusive culture in chambers will evidence your commitment to this pledge.

Many chambers are looking at:

  • Briefing practices to ensure women are not excluded from certain types of work

  • Marketing activity etc. to ensure women are included in activities which might helpthem develop their profile or practice.

  • Setting targets around the retention and progress of women following career breaks (with activity including putting in place comprehensive parental leave and flexible working plans and committing to undertake an annual audit,involving interviewing all women who are on maternity leave or who have taken maternity leave in the previous three years, to ascertain their views on how their transition back into practice has worked).

7. Making public our pledge and publishing our targets and action plan

This may simply include reference to being a pledge signatory on your website (hopefully signalling your commitment to gender diversity to your clients and prospective members). Actually publishing what you plan to do to support your commitment to the pledge will confirm you are serious about this agenda.  

If you want to discuss ideas for your pledge and want to know if they are suitable, please contact Equality@BarCouncil.org.uk

Tips:

Keep your actions simple - ideally they should reflect work underway so they do not add to chambers' workload

Keep your targets modest and manageable - small steps that suit your chambers' context are absolutely acceptable (you can always make targets more stretching in future)

Remember you will need to report on progress - don't propose anything you will really struggle to achieve or face challenge from others in chambers

Take the time to build support for the Pledge internally before you sign up - you may need to reassure other members of chambers who may feel they will be disadvantaged by any activity

Remember - the Pledge is just meant to help you by: 

  • Focussing attention on an issue/aspect of gender equality/diversity/inclusion that chambers needs to/wants to focus on;

  • Gaining traction/commitment from colleagues across chambers to deliver some positive change - however small; and

  • Demonstrating your commitment to gender diversity both externally and internally