Legal Services Board sets diversity reporting deadline

The Legal Services Board (LSB) has set the deadline for law firms to provide diversity data about every member of staff for the end of September reports the Law Gazette.  The information gathered includes ethnicity, religious beliefs, socio-economic background and sexual orientation.  
The LSB has approved the planned exercise by the SRA in the third quarter of 2012, where firms will collect data and submit it to the SRA.  The data will then be published in the first quarter of 2013.  The plan for firms to publish this diversity data themselves from 2013 was also approved by the LSB.  
The SRA will give firms a ‘model questionnaire’ which every member of staff can use to self-classify.  Characteristics covered by the form include age, gender, disability, ethnic group, religion or belief, sexual orientation, socio-economic background and caring responsibilities.  The form will cover both fee-earning and support staff.   
Some concern was noted by the LSB that the SRA missed the deadline of March 2012 for publishing diversity data, although it was accepted that it was disproportionate to expect the SRA to manage this due to the size of the profession it regulates and the amount of change already underway within the profession.
Chris Kenny, LSB Chief Executive commented:
“Responding to the LSB’s guidance, the approved regulators have shown progress in developing their approach to diversity data collection. 
“Transparency can act as a powerful incentive on employers to consider the impact of their recruitment decisions on retention and progression and we therefore welcome the decisions of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Bar Standards Board and the Council for Licensed Conveyancers to require entity level publication.
“The LSB will conduct a more thorough review in 2013, including an assessment of the data available.”  
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