Equality and Diversity

POLICY STATEMENT

Crosse + Crosse are committed to eliminating discrimination and promoting equality and diversity in its own policies, practices and procedures and in those areas in which it has influence. This applies to all aspects of the Firm’s professional dealings with members of staff and Partners, other solicitors, barristers, clients and third parties. As well as employment aspects including recruitment and selection, promotion, opportunities for training, benefits, other terms of employment, discipline, selection for redundancy and dismissal. The Firm is an equal opportunity employer and is fully committed to a policy of treating everyone equally.

The Firm will treat everyone fairly and equally and with the same attention, courtesy and respect and will not discriminate without lawful cause against any person, nor victimise or harass them on the grounds of their race or racial group, colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion or belief, age or disability.

The Firm will take such steps and make such adjustments as are necessary in all the circumstances in order to prevent any members of the Firm and clients from being placed at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with those who are not disabled.

The Firm will take all reasonable steps to employ, train and promote employees on the basis of their experience, abilities and qualifications without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. In this policy, these are known as the “protected characteristics”.

The Firm will also take all reasonable steps to provide a work environment in which all employees are treated with respect and dignity and that is free from harassment and bullying based upon the protected characteristics. All employees are responsible for conducting themselves in accordance with this policy. The Firm will not condone or tolerate any form of harassment, whether engaged in by employees or by outside third parties who do business with the Firm, such as clients, other lawyers, barristers, contractors and suppliers.

All Employees and Partners have a duty to co-operate with the Firm to make sure that this policy is effective in ensuring equal opportunities and in preventing discrimination, harassment or bullying. Action will be taken under the Firm’s disciplinary procedure against any employee who is found to have committed an act of improper or unlawful discrimination, harassment, bullying or intimidation.  Employees should also bear in mind that they can be held personally liable for any act of unlawful discrimination or harassment. Employees who commit serious acts of harassment may also be guilty of a criminal offence.

The Firm will also take appropriate action against any third parties who are found to have committed an act of improper or unlawful harassment against its employees.

REGULATION AND LEGISLATION

In developing and implementing its equality and diversity policy, the Firm will comply with the Equality Act 2010 and the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s Code of Conduct and with any future anti-discrimination legislation and associated codes of practice.

Direct discrimination

Direct discrimination occurs when, because of one of the protected characteristics, a person is treated less favourably than others are treated or would be treated.

The treatment will still amount to direct discrimination even if it is based on the protected characteristic of a third party with whom the person is associated and not on the individual’s own protected characteristic. In addition, it can include cases where it is perceived that a person has a particular protected characteristic when in fact they do not.

The Firm will take all reasonable steps to eliminate direct discrimination in all aspects of its professional dealings.

Indirect discrimination

Indirect discrimination is treatment that may be equal in the sense that it applies to all individuals but which is discriminatory in its effect on, for example, one particular sex or racial group.

Indirect discrimination occurs when there is applied to the person a provision, criterion or practice (PCP) which is discriminatory in relation to a protected characteristic of the person. A PCP is discriminatory in relation to a protected characteristic of the person if:

  • it is applied, or would be applied, to persons with whom the individual does not share the protected characteristic
  • the PCP puts, or would put, persons with whom the individual shares the protected characteristic at a particular disadvantage when compared with persons with whom the individual does not share it
  • it puts, or would put, the individual at that disadvantage, and
  • it cannot be shown by the Firm to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

The Firm will take all reasonable steps to eliminate indirect discrimination in all aspects of its professional dealings.

Recruitment, advertising and selection

The recruitment process will be conducted in such a way as to result in the selection of the most suitable person for the job in terms of relevant experience, abilities and qualifications. The Firm is committed to applying its equal opportunities policy statement at all stages of recruitment and selection.

Advertisements will aim to positively encourage applications from all suitably qualified and experienced people. When advertising job vacancies, in order to attract applications from all sections of the community, the Firm will, as far as reasonably practicable:

  1. Ensure advertisements are not confined to those areas or publications which would exclude or disproportionately reduce the numbers of applicants with a particular protected characteristic.
  2. Avoid setting any unnecessary provisions or criteria which would exclude a higher proportion of applicants with a particular protected characteristic.

Where vacancies may be filled by promotion or transfer, they will be published to all eligible employees in such a way that they do not restrict applications from employees with a particular protected characteristic.

However, where, having regard to the nature and context of the work, having a particular protected characteristic is an occupational requirement and that occupational requirement is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim, the Firm will apply that requirement to the job role and this may therefore be specified in the advertisement.

The selection process will be carried out consistently for all jobs at all levels. All applications will be processed in the same way. The staff responsible for short-listing, interviewing and selecting candidates will be clearly informed of the selection criteria and of the need for their consistent application. Person specifications and job descriptions will be limited to those requirements that are necessary for the effective performance of the job. Wherever possible, all applicants will be interviewed by at least two interviewers and all questions asked of the applicants will relate to the requirements of the job. The selection of new staff will be based on the job requirements and the individual’s suitability and ability to do, or to train for, the job in question.

If it is necessary to assess whether personal circumstances will affect the performance of the job (for example, if the job involves unsociable hours or extensive travel), this will be discussed objectively, without detailed questions based on assumptions about any of the protected characteristics.

Training and promotion

The Firm will train all line managers in the Firm’s policy on equal opportunities and in helping them identify and deal effectively with discriminatory acts or practices or acts of harassment or bullying. Line managers will be responsible for ensuring they actively promote equal opportunity within the departments for which they are responsible.

The Firm will also provide training to all employees to help them understand their rights and responsibilities in relation to equal opportunities and dignity at work and what they can do to create a work environment that is free from discrimination, bullying and harassment.

Where a promotional system is in operation, it will not be discriminatory and it will be checked from time to time to assess how it is working in practice. When a group of workers who predominantly have a particular protected characteristic appear to be excluded from access to promotion, transfer and training and to other benefits, the promotional system will be reviewed to ensure there is no unlawful discrimination.

Terms of employment, benefits, facilities and services

All terms of employment, benefits, facilities and services will be reviewed from time to time, in order to ensure that there is no unlawful direct or indirect discrimination because of one or more of the protected characteristics.

The Firm will have regard to its duty to make reasonable adjustments to work provisions and practices or to physical features of work premises or to provide auxiliary aids or services in order to ensure that disabled clients, employees or Partners are not placed at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with persons who are not disabled. No costs of any such adjustments will be passed on.

Barristers, clients, suppliers and other third parties

Barristers

Barristers should be instructed on the basis of their skills, experience and ability. The Firm will not, on any of the prohibited grounds referred to above, avoid briefing a barrister and will not request barristers’ clerks to do so. Clients’ requests for a named barrister should be complied with, subject to the Firm’s duty to discuss with the client the suitability of the barrister and to advise appropriately. The Firm will discuss with the client any request by the client that only a barrister who is not disabled or who is of a particular protected characteristic be instructed. In the absence of a valid reason for this request, which must be within any exemptions permitted by the anti-discrimination legislation, the Firm will endeavour to persuade the client to modify their instructions insofar as they are given on discriminatory grounds. Should the client refuse to modify such instructions, the Firm will cease to act.

Clients

The Firm is generally free to decide whether to accept instructions from any particular client, but any refusal to act will not be based upon any of the prohibited grounds referred to above. The Firm will take steps to meet the different needs of particular clients arising from its obligations under anti-discrimination legislation. In addition, where necessary and where it is permitted by the relevant anti-discrimination legislation (for example, provisions relating to positive action or exemptions) the Firm will seek to provide services which meet the specific needs and requests arising from a protected characteristic.

Suppliers and other third parties

All lists, if any, of approved suppliers and databases of contractors, agents and other third parties who, or which, are regarded as suitable to be instructed by those within the Firm have been or will be compiled only on the basis of the ability of those persons or organizations to undertake work of a particular type and do not or will not contain discriminatory exclusion, restriction or preference.

Reporting complaints

All allegations of discrimination or harassment will be dealt with seriously, confidentially and speedily. The Firm will not ignore or treat lightly grievances or complaints of discrimination or harassment from employees.

If you wish to make a complaint of discrimination, you should use the Firm’s grievance procedure.

With cases of harassment, while the Firm encourages employees who believe they are being harassed or bullied to notify the offender (by words or by conduct) that his or her behaviour is unwelcome, the Firm also recognises that actual or perceived power and status disparities may make such confrontation impractical. In the event that such informal direct communication is either ineffective or impractical, or the situation is too serious to be dealt with informally, you should follow the procedure set out below.

If you wish to make a complaint of harassment, whether against a fellow employee or a third party, such as a client, other lawyer, barrister, contractor or supplier, you should follow the following steps:

  1. First of all, report the incident of harassment to a Partner or the Office Manager.
  2. Such reports should be made promptly so that investigation may proceed and any action taken expeditiously.
  3. All allegations of harassment will be taken seriously. The allegation will be promptly investigated and, as part of the investigatory process, you will be interviewed and asked to provide a written witness statement setting out the details of your complaint. Confidentiality will be maintained during the investigatory process to the extent that this is practical and appropriate in the circumstances. However, in order to effectively investigate an allegation, the Firm must be able to determine the scope of the investigation and the individuals who should be informed of or interviewed about the allegation. For example, the identity of the complainant and the nature of the allegations must be revealed to the alleged harasser so that he or she is able to fairly respond to the allegations. Anyone interviewed will have the right to be accompanied by a fellow employee, parent or guardian, in accordance with the Employment Relations Act 1999. The Firm reserves the right to arrange for another Partner or Manager to conduct the investigation other than the original person with whom you raised the matter.
  4. Once the investigation has been completed, you will be informed in writing of the outcome and the Firm’s conclusions and decision as soon as possible. The Firm is committed to taking appropriate action with respect to all complaints of harassment which are upheld. If appropriate, disciplinary proceedings will be brought against the alleged harasser.
  5. You will not be penalised for raising a complaint, even if it is not upheld, unless your complaint was both untrue and made in bad faith.
  6. If your complaint is upheld and the harasser remains in the Firm’s employment, the Firm will take all reasonable steps to ensure that you do not have to continue working alongside him or her if you do not wish to do so. The Firm will discuss the options with you.
  7. If your complaint is not upheld, arrangements will be made for you and the alleged harasser to continue or resume working and to repair working relationships.

Alternatively, you may, if you wish, use the Firm’s grievance procedure to make a complaint of harassment.

Promoting equality of opportunity and respect for diversity

Members of the Firm will be informed of this policy and will be provided with equality and diversity training appropriate to their needs and responsibilities. All those who act on the Firm’s behalf will be informed of this equality and diversity policy and will be expected to pay due regard to it when conducting business on the Firm’s behalf and to promote the principles of equality and diversity. The Firm will make every effort to reflect its commitment to equality and diversity in its marketing and communication activities.

Implementing the Policy

Responsibility Ultimate responsibility for implementing the policy rests with the partners of the Firm. The Firm has appointed the Office Manager to be responsible for the operation of the policy. All members of the Firm are expected to pay due regard to the provisions of this policy and are responsible for ensuring compliance with it when undertaking their jobs or representing the Firm. Any breach of this policy by members of the Firm will result in disciplinary action, including termination of services where appropriate.

Monitoring and review

This policy will be monitored and reviewed on a regular basis (and in any event at least annually) to measure its progress and judge its effectiveness. If changes are required, the Firm will implement them. The Firm will also make reasonable adjustments to its standard working practices to overcome any substantial disadvantages.

The Firm will, as appropriate (but without requiring any member of the Firm to provide information should they not wish to do so), conduct and record:

  1. The gender and ethnic composition of members of the Firm as well as the number of disabled staff, at different levels of the Firm.
  2. The ethnicity, gender and disability of all applicants, short-listed applicants and successful applicants for jobs and training contracts.
  3. The ethnicity, gender and disability of all applicants for promotion (including to partnership) and training opportunities and details of whether they were successful.
  4. Where it is possible to do so, and where doing so will not cause offence or discomfort to those whom it is intended to protect, the sexual orientation and religion or belief of all members of the Firm will be monitored so as to ensure that they are not being discriminated against in terms of the opportunities or benefits available to them.
  5. The number and outcome of complaints of discrimination made by members of the Firm, barristers, clients and other third parties.
  6. The disciplinary action (if any) taken against members of the Firm by race, gender and disability.

This information will be used to review the progress and impact of the equality and diversity policy. Any changes required will be made and implemented.

2014-15 Diversity Data - 55% participation

Age Diversity Data: 16-24 - 4%, 25-34 - 16%,    35-44 - 16.6%, 45-54 - 29%, 55-64 - 33% 65+ - 4%

Religion Diversity Data: No religion – 33%   Christian – 56%    Other – 4%

GenderDiversity Data: Male – 25%       Female – 76%

Ethnicity Diversity Data: White – 100%

Disability Diversity Data:          No - 100%

 

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