Principle 9 calls, among other things, for the legal profession to adhere to what is otherwise recognised as equal opportunity guidelines. The SRA is to send out letters next week reminding solicitors’ firms of their obligation to complete and register their workforce statistics.
The Diversity Data Collection, a way for the SRA to appraise and collate solicitors’ firms of Principle 9 compliance, is due by 31st January next year. Although the details for this year’s requirements were announced in July, to date it has received less than 1,000 respondents. Hence the reminders due to be sent out next week.
All change – a simpler Diversity Data Collection online form
The good news is that the online form for submitting Diversity Data has been simplified this year. At least according to the Authority’s Director of Inclusion, Mehrunnisa Lalani.
Despite this being a regulatory requirement, Lalani’s words hint that lacklustre responses have been the norm in prior years. Urging a “higher response”, she’s urging Law Society members not to see Diversity Data Collection as an auxiliary part of their obligation to Principle 9 compliance.
To help firms complete the online form, this year the SRA has provided a sample questionnaire for reference. There’s a user guide and, should the process still be too overwhelming, a corresponding Q & A section on the SRA website.
Non-compliance will be “treated seriously” by SRA
In the past, firms may have seen DDC as a task there only to serve the SRA in its attempts to paint the Law Society in a brighter light. Maybe there has, to a certain extent, been merit in that belief.
That will not be the case this year. The “aggregated data” will be published publicly next year. Non-compliance will be treated seriously for any firms whose information is not available to contribute to the most accurate view of the industry’s diversity.
To be fair, the SRA could not have done more to help lawyers with guidance. There is a variety of media available to help firms of all sizes register their data.
Tools and Guides to help law firms complete DDC
On the 27th of September, a live webinar was broadcast covering the many aspects of Diversity Data Collection. The recording is still available on the SRA’s webinar page.
The outline of the data that firms need to get together to help them complete the task are as follows:
- collate their organisation’s diversity data
- transmit the aggregated data by 31/01/2014 through their mySRA portal
- summarise and duly publish it
Any solicitors needing further guidance can:
- download a pdf guide to help them collect relevant diversity data collection
- gain context by consulting the Publication framework, which both explains the requirements in detail and outlines the SRA’s approach to DDC
- refer to the aforementioned Q & A page
- make use of the original Diversity Data Collection User Guide
In short, the SRA is pushing hard for this data by the end of January and has promised to take action for firms failing to do their part. By keeping tabs and reporting workforce diversity regularly, the industry can show the strides it’s making to comply with Principle 9.
Diversity Data Collection is just one part of that, true. However, with so much help being provided, there really is no excuse for not submitting your law firm’s statistics this time around. Is there?