That’s right, another Diversity reporting deadline is looming. Solicitor firms will have between the 26th of June and 23rd of July 2023 to submit their diversity data to the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
As a reminder to existing firms, and some guidance for new firms, here is what it is all about.
Some years ago, the SRA moved to a diversity data collection exercise every other year, with the latest one falling in 2023.
The process for this would be that the firm issues diversity questionnaires to all personnel with a request to complete them and return them. To ensure confidentiality, this should be done anonymously. To that end, firms will have to ensure practical steps are in place to ensure anonymity, such as not requiring the person completing the questionnaire to complete and return it by email for example.
This time around that may be more challenging for firms that allow personnel to work from home…
Once the questionnaires are returned, they need to be collated by the various role types so that entering them on the SRA data collection forms is straightforward. Once that is done, then firms should use the link that the SRA will have emailed to their authorised signatory to submit their data.
(Remember to check your Junk and Spam folders around this time, as we know SRA communications can end up in there inadvertently.)
Also bear in mind that the SRA require firms to publish this data on their own websites, subject to some exemptions such as whether it is easy to identify a given individual from the data. The reasons for not publishing are shown on the SRA website after the data has been submitted, and if not publishing the data, firms will need to select one of the reasons shown prior to an acknowledgement that the process has been completed.
A final point is that firms should remember that the SRA uses this data to make conclusions on the diversity of those firms and individuals that are regulated by them. This can influence policy decisions that will affect all solicitor firms.
If individuals decide not to return a diversity questionnaire, or to answer all questions “prefer not to say” then the overall sample data available to the SRA may not be sufficient to make any meaningful conclusions that would help them to formulate strategy decisions. It could also “skew” data so that any conclusion made, particularly without investigating underlying causality, are flawed. It would therefore be more useful to the profession as a whole that personnel are encouraged to complete the questionnaire in as much detail as possible, however, it is not a mandatory requirement for them to do so, and they cannot be forced to.
And there you have it. Remember the “window” for submissions opens on the 26th of June and the deadline for submission is 23rd of July 2023.
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