You may or may not be aware of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements which have entered into the public conciousness in recent years.
Firstly, lets take a look at the background behind these Hash Tags.
#MeToo is a movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault.
The phrase was used as early as 2006 when Tarana Burke, an activist from Harlem, launched the movement to help underprivileged women of colour affected by sexual abuse.
However, it gained popularity during 2017 when actress Alyssa Milano shared her story of sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein.
TIME'S UP is an organisation that insists on safe, fair and dignified work for women of all kinds. In the Autumn of 2017 – there were a number of disclosures of abuse and misbehaviour at the hands of powerful men. This led to a group of women who worked within entertainment meeting to talk about what can be done to prevent abuse and ensure equality for working women.
The opening line on the Time’s Up website says “The clock has run out on sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace. It’s time to do something about it”
You can find further information here: https://www.timesupnow.com/
But how might this affect your firms?
If your firm deals with these types of cases, you may see in increase in the number of prospective clients that approach you for help. How can you ensure that your services are accessible to all who need it? Do you risk losing potential clients by not ensuring your services are accessible?
This links into the SRA Risk Outlook 2018/19 – Access to Legal Services – which I did a brief article on in December, you can read this here: https://riliance.co.uk/sra-risk-outlook-201819.
On the other hand, have you reviewed your own firms policies relating to this to ensure that they are correct and up to date?
Another thing to consider is whether there could be historical issues arising from within your own firms. Lawyers have previously revealed that it is a big problem within their own profession. Female lawyers say sexual harassment is rife in the industry, but many are afraid to report it to their senior male colleague. Experts say that the culture within the legal profession is such that the victim is seen as being “weak”. Whereas some women lawyers say that “sexual harassment is a fact of life at UK law firms".
There are lots of things to consider within this topic and although Riliance don’t have anything specific planned on how to deal with this, should you require any assistance dealing with this from a compliance point of view, please get in touch.
Author: Rhiannon Davies