Wednesday, April 24, 2019

SRA Diversity Survey

The SRA requires firms to collect, report and publish data about the diversity of their firm every two years.

This is done via a questionnaire provided by the SRA; such data was last collected in August 2017, meaning that this bi-annual task is due to be completed again this year. To comply with the SRA’s intended timescale to collect this data in June 2019, Riliance recommend that you begin this process now.

Background

The Legal Services Act 2007 (The Act) specifies a regulatory requirement to encourage a strong, independent and diverse legal profession within firms that supply reserved legal services. To ensure compliance with the Act, and in an effort to increase diversity within the legal workforce, in 2011 the Legal Services Board introduced the requirement for firms to collect and publish their diversity make-up.  This requirement applies to all firms regulated by the SRA, including sole practitioners, recognised bodies and alternative business structures. The data that is reported to the SRA is then reported back to the Legal Services Board.

Reporting

Riliance can assist with the process of collecting all the necessary data safely and anonymously; our online SRA Diversity Survey tool manages the process for you, as well as monitoring and managing staff survey completion. The data is then reported back to you in a format ready for you to submit to the SRA. Riliance’s viewpoint is that whilst it is an absolute requirement for all law firms in England and Wales to offer the survey to their employees, there are also many benefits to collecting this data, which include:

  • Meeting your legal and regulatory equality duties
  • Understanding the profile of your current teams and plan for future recruitment
  • Stronger culture and deeper customer insight

Given the sensitive nature of the data that is being collected, it is not a mandatory requirement for employees to complete the questionnaire.  The SRA mandate that the data is published anonymously and must be done in a way that is compliant with data protection legislation. For very small firms where this would not be possible and there is potential that the data could be used to identify individuals, these firms may find that they cannot publish their data. The SRA has provided some helpful guidance on how to minimise the risk of identifying individuals, which includes:

  • Merge role categories to show a high-level breakdown of the data, for example by partner, other fee earner and support staff
  • Publish data across the whole firm
  • Show the high-level ethnicity categories rather than the detailed sub categories

For further information on the services Riliance offer in connection to Diversity reporting, please click here: https://riliance.co.uk/sra-diversity-survey

Author: Laura Griffiths