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Equality & Diversity

Bowden Jones Solicitors is committed to providing equality of opportunity and maximising the benefits, for all, to be gained from recognising and respecting people diversity.

SRA Regulations (2011)

The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) Mandatory Principle No 9 requires us to:

“Run your business or carry out your role in the business in a way that encourages equality of opportunity and respect for diversity”

Discrimination

The Firm, its owners, Directors, Managers and staff will not discriminate or tolerate unlawful discrimination based on any of the “protected characteristics set out in the Equality Act 2010 or the legal sector Quality Standards referred to below

Equality Act 2010 – “Protected Characteristics” are listed as:

  1. Age
  2. Disability
  3. Gender Reassignment
  4. Marriage and Civil Partnership
  5. Pregnancy and Maternity
  6. Race
  7. Religion and Belief
  8. Sex
  9. Sexual Orientation

The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) SQM lists additional/differently-worded characteristics:

  • Colour
  • Ethnic or national origins,
  • Marital status

Types of Discrimination

  • Direct Discrimination – one person is treated less favourably than another based on a protected characteristic
  • Indirect Discrimination – a rule or policy that applies to everyone that can inadvertently disadvantage someone with a protected characteristic (unless it is a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate business aim”)
  • Associative Discrimination – direct discrimination takes place against someone because they associate with someone who has a protected characteristic e.g. A carer of a person with a disability
  • Discrimination by Perception – direct discrimination because others think (wrongly) that someone has a protected characteristic – e.g. when they think someone is gay when they are not and discriminate against them on the basis of that perception.  The Firm will not tolerate or permit Harassment or Victimisation of any kind either of our own personnel, Clients or persons external to our organisation with whom we interact professionally

Harassment and Victimisation

  • Harassment – including unwanted or inappropriate attention or behaviour staff find offensive even if not directed against them personally
  • Harassment by a Third Party
  • Victimisation – someone being treated badly because they have complained, raised a grievance or supported someone who has e.g. whistle blower or complainant.  This policy will be made available to all staff and will apply as follows, to the:

Internally

Application of the Policy

  • Recruitment, selection, treatment, training, promotion, discipline and dismissal of all staff including the appointment of Directors
  • Employment and Directorship, and conditions of service
  • The planning and provision of services for Clients

Externally

  • The provision and delivery of services to Clients
  • Instruction of counsel or other experts, in all professional dealings
  • In all dealings with the other party’s representatives.  We will implement and integrate this policy into our processes and procedures as follows:

Implementation & Integration of Policy

  • Training – The Firm will ensure that all Directors, Managers and other staff are trained to understand and apply our Equality & Diversity Policy.
  • Recruitment – open recruitment methods such as the use of recruitment agencies, careers services and press advertisements (as appropriate) and such recruitment notices will, where possible refer to our Equality and Diversity Policy
  • Selection – A Job Description setting out the duties & responsibilities together with the skills, knowledge and experience required will be prepared and all applications for that job will be shortlisted, and interviewed using the same questions based on the Job Description and Person Specification.
  • Induction – All successful candidates will be given a copy of this policy during their induction to the organisation and its importance emphasised.
  • Job Applications – We will monitor the number of job applicants from different gender, disability and ethnic groups (at least annually).
  • Monitoring Diversity – the organisation will from time to time carry out an analysis and review of its mix of employees/Directors and consider whether this provides evidence of effective implementation of the Equality and Diversity Policy or if further action is required e.g. change or procedure or further training of its managers and senior personnel.
  • Client Care & Complaints – Our Client Care Letters which contain a statement on our Equality & Diversity Policy and inform our Clients that they can raise any complaints under the Firm’s Complaints Procedure.
    • We will review our complaints annually to check if any Equality and Diversity issues arise e.g. access to our services by someone with a disability.
    • We will also provide services to Clients in a way that respects diversity.
    • We will make reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled Clients, employees or managers are not placed at a substantial disadvantage compared to those who are not disabled, and we will not pass on the costs of these adjustments to these disabled Clients, employees or manager
  • Annual Review of this Policy and Procedures – We will carry out an annual review of the policy, taking into account (inter alia) the above analysis to verify it is in effective operation across the practice. We will have regard, in such reviews, as to whether any of our policies or procedures might lead to indirect discrimination.  It is hoped that as a result of training, all staff will see the benefits of complying with all aspects of this policy.  We will deal with the matter fairly and reasonably but in some circumstances it could lead to dismissal.  Complaints from Clients and external people or organisations will be dealt with under our Clients’ Complaints Procedure and the Disciplinary Procedure as appropriate.  If anyone is concerned that a breach of this policy may be occurring, or has a complaint that they are a victim of a breach, they should immediately report this to any Director, Head of Department or line manager.  We all come from different backgrounds and each brings with us a wealth of life experiences that shape us into the unique individual we each are.  We therefore often have different perspectives of the challenges and opportunities we face in the practice.Equality and Diversity is not about treating everyone as if they were the same. It’s about recognising and valuing the difference and ideas that each individual can bring to the Firm.  It is about treating each other with respect and courtesy at all times.  Although it is unlawful to discriminate in favour of certain groups on the grounds of race or sex, positive action to enable greater representation of under-represented groups is permitted by law and the appropriateness of such action will be kept under review.

Positive Action

  • It is about the benefits to all of us of equality fairness and difference.
  • In our decision-making, business planning and process improvement, we therefore wish to benefit from these different perspectives.
  • The organisation is therefore a rich tapestry of people which make it different from any other organisation.

Diversity

  • Complaints of discrimination will be dealt with promptly, fairly, openly, and effectively.
  • As an indication of how important this policy is to us, as can be seen for the Organisational Structure, we have appointed a senior person with responsibility for this policy, its effective implementation and enforcement.
  • If however, there is an all alleged breach of this policy, the allegations will be treated as disciplinary offences and fully investigated under our Disciplinary Procedures.

Enforcement – Breach of this Policy

It is hoped that as a result of training, all staff will see the benefits of complying with all aspects of this policy.

If however, there is an all alleged breach of this policy, the allegations will be treated as disciplinary offences and fully investigated under our Disciplinary Procedures.

We will deal with the matter fairly and reasonably but in some circumstances it could lead to dismissal.

As an indication of how important this policy is to us, as can be seen for the Organisational Structure, we have appointed a senior person with responsibility for this policy, its effective implementation and enforcement.

Complaints from Clients and external people or organisations will be dealt with under our Clients’ Complaints Procedure and the Disciplinary Procedure as appropriate.

Complaints of discrimination will be dealt with promptly, fairly, openly, and effectively.

If anyone is concerned that a breach of this policy may be occurring, or has a complaint that they are a victim of a breach, they should immediately report this to any Director, Head of Department or line manager.

Diversity

We all come from different backgrounds and each brings with us a wealth of life experiences that shape us into the unique individual we each are.

The organisation is therefore a rich tapestry of people which make it different from any other organisation.

We therefore often have different perspectives of the challenges and opportunities we face in the practice.

In our decision-making, business planning and process improvement, we therefore wish to benefit from these different perspectives.

Equality and Diversity is not about treating everyone as if they were the same. It’s about recognising and valuing the difference and ideas that each individual can bring to the Firm.

It is about the benefits to all of us of equality fairness and difference.

It is about treating each other with respect and courtesy at all times.

Positive Action

Although it is unlawful to discriminate in favour of certain groups on the grounds of race or sex, positive action to enable greater representation of under-represented groups is permitted by law and the appropriateness of such action will be kept under review.

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