Equality and diversity

What is equality and diversity?

We consider equality to mean removing barriers, eliminating discrimination and ensuring equal opportunities and access for all.

We consider diversity to mean celebrating difference and valuing everyone’s contribution. Each person is an individual with visible and non-visible differences. By recognising and respecting this, everyone can feel included and we can appreciate the benefits of working with people who approach things from a different perspective.

The CLSB’s role

Under the Equality Act 2010, the CLSB must take into account certain factors when exercising its public functions, namely the need to:

  • eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited under the Act
  • advance equality of opportunity between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it
  • foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it

Under the Legal Services Act 2007, the CLSB must also promote the objective of encouraging an independent, strong, diverse and effective legal profession.

This sets the baseline for the CLSB’s role in promoting equality and diversity among the Costs Lawyer profession and the wider community. We are dedicated to creating a working and regulatory culture in which:

  • diversity is recognised and valued
  • equality of opportunity is promoted actively
  • unlawful discrimination, victimisation and harassment are exposed and never tolerated

We do this in various ways, for example by monitoring diversity within the profession, working to remove arbitrary barriers to entry, providing resources and guidance for Costs Lawyers, and ensuring our own internal policies and regulatory arrangements (including our Disciplinary Rules and Procedures) promote equality and diversity.

Our Equality and Diversity Statement can be accessed here.

What we expect from Costs Lawyers

Principle 6 of the Costs Lawyer Code of Conduct requires Costs Lawyers to treat everyone with dignity and respect. This includes clients, colleagues and third parties.

Costs Lawyers are expected to have and adhere to a written policy that prevents discrimination and harassment, and investigate any allegation of non-compliance with that policy. Costs Lawyers are also required to make reasonable adjustments for those with a disability, to ensure they are not at a disadvantage by comparison to those without disabilities.

As well as considering their own conduct, a Costs Lawyer should encourage any business of which they are a part to:

  • commit to the promotion of equality and diversity and comply with legislative requirements
  • have a written equality and diversity policy which is appropriate to the size and nature of the firm and which includes details of how complaints and disciplinary issues in relation to equality will be dealt with
  • provide employees and managers with appropriate training and information about complying with equality and diversity requirements

We also encourage Costs Lawyers to undertake training in relation to equality and diversity issues, such as addressing unconscious bias or developing an inclusive workplace culture. This kind of training may count toward CPD requirements.

Resources

The first step in promoting diversity amongst Costs Lawyers is to understand the existing make-up of the profession. One way in which we do this is through a diversity survey, conducted every three years. Data from the latest diversity survey is published on our website.

We also work with ACL Training to collect diversity data from students who enrol in the Costs Lawyer Qualification. Data for the 2020 student intake is now available. You can contact us or ACL Training for more information.

We raise awareness of current diversity and inclusion issues through guest posts from a range of contributors in our regular newsletters to Costs Lawyer.

We have collaborated with the Solicitors Regulation Authority to produce a guide for Costs Lawyers on The Business Case for Diversity. This provides a framework for understanding how diversity can benefit both employers and employees.