EQUALITY & DIVERSITY POLICY
Shaw Graham Kersh is committed to eliminating discrimination and promoting equality and diversity within our policies, practices and procedures.
We are committed to promoting equality and diversity within the firm. This applies to our professional dealings with clients, staff and partners, other solicitors, barristers, and other third parties.
We shall treat everyone equally and with the same attention, courtesy and respect regardless of their age, disability, gender reassignment, race, colour, ethnic or national origin, nationality, religion or belief, gender, sexual orientation or marital status.
In developing and implementing this policy, the firm is committed to complying with rule 6 (Equality and Diversity) of the Solicitors’ Code of Conduct and with all current and future anti-discrimination legislation and associated codes of practice.
General statement of intent
As a provider of publicly funded legal services Shaw Graham Kersh will treat all clients equally and fairly and not unlawfully discriminate against them. The firm will also take steps to promote equal opportunity in relation to access to the legal services that we provide, taking account of the diversity of the communities that we serve.
Meeting Clients’ needs
Shaw Graham Kersh is committed to meeting the diverse needs of all our clients. We will take steps to identify the needs of clients in our community and develop policies and procedures, explain how we intend to meet clients’ needs. We will ensure that the services we provide are accessible to all.
In addition, where necessary and where it is permitted by the relevant legislation, the firm will seek to provide services which meet specific needs and requests arising from clients’ own circumstances.
Dealings with third parties
Shaw Graham Kersh will not unlawfully discriminate in dealings with third parties. This applies to dealings with other legal service providers and general procurement.
Shaw Graham Kersh will instruct barristers on the basis of their skill, experience and ability. The firm will not base any decision to brief a barrister on any of the forbidden grounds, and will not request barristers’ clerks to do so.
Any request by a client that a barrister be appointed on a basis which is discriminatory will be discussed with them before a decision is made. Where there is no valid reason for the request which falls within the exemptions permitted by the anti-discrimination legislation, the firm will seek to persuade the client to modify their instructions. Should the client continue to give instructions to select a barrister on discriminatory grounds, the firm will cease to act.
Shaw Graham Kersh will instruct approved suppliers, contractors, agents and other third parties on the basis of their skill, experience and ability to undertake work of a particular type. Selection is not based on discriminatory grounds.
Employment and Training
General statement of intent
As an employer, Shaw Graham Kersh will treat all employees and job applicants equally and fairly and not unlawfully discriminate against them. This applies equally to voluntary positions and anyone undertaking work experience with us.
This will include arrangements for recruitment and selection, terms and conditions of employment, access to training opportunities, access to promotion and transfers, grievance and disciplinary procedures, demotions, selection for redundancies, dress code, references, bonus schemes, work allocation and all other employment related activities.
Recruitment and selection
The firm recognises the benefits of having a diverse workforce and will take steps to ensure that:
- It endeavours to recruit from the widest pool of qualified candidates practicable;
- Employment opportunities are open and accessible to all on the basis of their individual qualities, experience and personal merit;
- Where appropriate, positive action will be taken to attract applications from all sections of society and especially from those groups which are underrepresented in the workforce;
- selection criteria and processes do not unlawfully discriminate on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, colour, ethnic or national origin, nationality, religion or belief, gender, sexual orientation or marital status other than in those instances where the firm is exercising permitted positive action or a permitted exemption;
- Wherever appropriate and necessary, lawful exemptions (genuine occupational requirements) will be used to recruit suitable staff to meet the special needs of particular groups;
- All recruitment agencies acting for the firm are aware of requirements not to discriminate and to act accordingly.
Conditions of service
Shaw Graham Kersh will treat all employees equally and create a working environment which is free from unlawful discrimination and which respects the diverse backgrounds and beliefs of employees.
Terms and conditions of service for employees will comply with anti-discrimination legislation. The provision of benefits such as flexible working hours, maternity and other leave arrangements, performance appraisal systems, dress code and all other conditions of employment will not unlawfully discriminate against any employee on the grounds of their age, disability, gender reassignment, race, colour, ethnic or national origin, nationality, religion or belief, gender, sexual orientation or marital status.
The firm will endeavour to provide appropriate facilities and conditions of service which take into account the specific needs of employees which arise from their ethnic or cultural background; gender and gender reassignment; responsibilities as carers; disability; religion or belief; or sexual orientation.
Promotion and career development
Promotion within Shaw Graham Kersh (including to partners) will be made without reference to any of the forbidden grounds and will be based solely on merit.
The selection criteria and processes for recruitment and promotion will be kept under review to ensure that there is no unjustifiable discriminatory impact on any particular group.
While positive action may be taken in accordance with relevant anti-discrimination legislation to encourage applications from under-represented groups, appointments to all jobs will be based solely on merit.
All employees will have equal access to training and other career development opportunities appropriate to their experience and abilities. However, the firm will take appropriate positive action measures (as permitted by the anti-discrimination legislation) to provide special training and support for groups which are under-represented in the workforce and encourage them to take up training and career development opportunities.
Working with other organisations and individuals
All those who act on the firm’s behalf will be informed of the terms of this Equality and Diversity policy and will be expected to pay regard to it when conducting business on the firm’s behalf. In all its dealings, including those with any consortium members, the firm will seek to promote the principles of equality and diversity.
Implementing the policy
Ultimate responsibility for implementing the policy rests with the firm.
The firm has appointed Philip Hill to be responsible for the operation of the policy. All employees and partners of the firm are expected to pay due regard to the provisions of this policy and are responsible for ensuring compliance with it when undertaking their work and representing the firm.
Acts of unlawful discrimination on any of the forbidden grounds and failure to comply with this policy by employees or partners of the firm will result in disciplinary action.
Acts of unlawful discrimination on any of the forbidden grounds by those acting on the firm’s behalf will lead to action being taken including, where appropriate, the termination of services and removal from the approved suppliers list.
Complaints of discrimination
The firm will treat seriously all complaints of unlawful discrimination on any of the forbidden grounds made by employees, partners, clients, barristers or other third parties and will take action where appropriate.
All complaints will be investigated in accordance with the firm’s grievance or complaints procedure and the complainant will be informed of the outcome.
The policy will be monitored on an annual basis to judge its effectiveness. In particular, the firm will, as appropriate, monitor and record:
The gender, age and ethnic composition of the workforce and partners, together with the number of disabled staff and partners.
The gender, age, ethnicity and disability of the all applicants, short-listed applicants and successful applicants for jobs and training contracts.
The gender, age, ethnicity and disability of the all applicants for promotion (including to partnership) and training opportunities.
Disciplinary action (if any) taken against employees by race, gender, age and disability.
The number and outcomes of complaints of discrimination made by staff, partners, clients, barristers, clients and other third parties.
Equal opportunities information will be used exclusively to monitor the progress of the firm’s Equality and Diversity policy. Any changes deemed necessary will be implemented.
Diversity – in contrast to equal opportunity, promoting diversity is not concerned with treating people equally, but recognizing and responding to different needs, experiences and aspirations, and acting accordingly.
Equal opportunities monitoring – the collection of data about a person that is analysed to ensure that a policy or procedure does not amount to unlawful discrimination or have an adverse impact on a particular group or people
Positive discrimination – the making of a decision in a person’s favour on the basis of a particular characteristic, is usually unlawful unless it falls into one of the very limited exceptions contained in the anti-discrimination legislation relation to disability or is a genuine occupational requirement.
Positive action – the encouragement of the participation of, or access to services for, members of under-represented groups. Positive action may be employed to minimise the effects and outcomes of past discrimination against particular groups. In limited circumstances, employers may take special measures relating to access to training for particular work or encouragement to apply for particular posts.
Genuine Occupational Requirement – there are some very limited circumstances in which it may be lawful to positively discriminate on particular grounds, for example, where being of a particular race or religious origin is an essential requirement of the job, or for reasons of decency or privacy.
Protected characteristics – the collective term for the grounds of discrimination or equality strands given express protection under the Equality Act 2010.They are: age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, gender, sexual orientation, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity.
Forms of discrimination
The following forms of discrimination are against the firm’s policies:
Direct discrimination - where a person is treated less favourably on the grounds of race, racial group, colour, ethnic or national origins, gender, gender reassignment, pregnancy, marital status, disability or sexual orientation or religion or belief.
Indirect discrimination - where an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice would put a substantially higher proportion of the members of one gender, or people of a particular racial group or religion or belief, sexual orientation or with a disability at a particular disadvantage compared with other persons, unless that provision, criterion or practice is objectively justified by a legitimate aim and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary.
Victimisation - where a person is treated less favourably because she or he has made a complaint of discrimination. This also applies to individuals who may have assisted or supported the complainant, for example, as a witness or by showing sympathy.
Harassment - when unwanted conduct takes place with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. Harassment may involve physical acts or verbal and non-verbal communications and gestures. This will include physical, verbal and non-verbal acts.