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Diversity data collection

31 January 2014 deadline

The deadline for firms to report their 2013 workforce diversity data was 31 January 2014, which we extended to 25 February 2014. If you have not yet reported your firm's workforce diversity data, you should do so immediately.

Issued on 1 July 2013 (updated on 14 March 2014)

For help and more information, please email diversity@sra.org.uk . (Please do not email us your firm's workforce diversity data. Instead, see Reporting diversity data below.)

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Quick guide

This is a brief summary of the guidance providing you with a high level overview of the requirements.

Requirements for the annual workforce data collection

What are firms required to do each year?

Firms regulated by the SRA are required to a) collect b) report and c) publish data about the diversity make-up of their workforce annually.

Who does the requirement apply to?

The requirements applies to all firms regulated by the SRA, including sole practices, recognised bodies and alternative business structures. Everyone working at the firm should be covered by the workforce diversity data collection exercise, including owners of the firm and all other qualified and non qualified staff.

What information are firms required to collect?

Firms are advised to collect their data by role categories set out in section 1 of Collecting data .

Once you have collected the data for your workforce, the aggregated data collected from everyone working at the firm must be reported to the SRA, broken down by these role categories online via mySRA.

A Microsoft Word version of the diversity questionnaire (DOC 5 pages, 26K) is available for firms to adapt for their own use.

The data collected from everyone working at the firm includes:

  • information about a person's role, ownership and supervisory responsibilities in the firm,
  • information about a person's protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, and
  • information about socio economic factors (education) and caring responsibilities.

What do we do with the information?

You will need to report the aggregated firm data to the SRA on the Organisation Diversity Data page of mySRA. Only individuals nominated by the firm as authorised signatories or organisation contacts will be able to view and enter this information. Our user guidance provides further information on how to enter the data.

The SRA in turn will be publishing the data aggregated across the profession.

How do I meet the publishing requirement?

Firms will be required to publish a summary of their workforce diversity data. Further guidance can be found in our Publication framework .

Firms need to be careful about publishing diversity data, even anonymous data, where there is a risk that individuals may be identifiable.

The Information Commissioners Office has published a code of practice on publishing anonymous data; Anonymisation: managing data protection risk " which provides useful advice about how to guard against the risk of publishing data that might lead to the identification of an individual or individuals.

See our questions and answers section for further guidance.

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Requirements for 2013

Introduction

  • 1.

    In 2011, the Legal Services Board (LSB) published their decision paper on increasing diversity and social mobility in the legal workforce. This requires approved regulators, such as the SRA, to ensure that a comprehensive evidence base about the diversity characteristics of the legal workforce is available.

  • 2.

    As a result, firms regulated by the SRA are required to collect, report and publish workforce diversity data about the diversity make-up of their workforce. The SRA has adopted the diversity monitoring categories as set out in the LSB model questionnaire.

  • 3.

    In collecting this data, firms are required to give every individual in their workforce an opportunity to self-classify against a range of diversity characteristics. The aggregated workforce data must be reported to the SRA, broken down by the specified role categories and a summary of that data published by the firm.

  • 4.

    The time table for 2013 is as follows:

    • Firms are advised to start planning their diversity data collection now;
    • The facility for online reporting will open shortly and will remain open for firms to comply with their annual reporting requirements;
    • Firms must report their data on the Organisation Diversity Data page of mySRA by 31 January 2014;
    • The SRA will take a snapshot of the aggregated data across all firms in February 2014.

The benefits of diversity monitoring

  • 5.

    We would encourage firms to use the data to inform their equality and diversity work, the monitoring should not be used a stand alone exercise just done for the sake of compliance. The information gathered will help identify any diversity issues so that appropriate steps can be taken to resolve them. Diversity monitoring is just one of the tools that a firm can use to manage the risks of non compliance with the discrimination legislation or the regulatory regime which could lead to complaints to the Legal Ombudsman, legal action or investigation by the SRA.

  • 6.

    The benefits of diversity monitoring have been recognised by many firms leading the way in this area. Signatories to the Law Society's Diversity and Inclusion Charter have all recognised the real benefits that monitoring can bring. You can read more about the Diversity and Inclusion Charter , the flagship diversity initiative of the legal profession, on the Law Society's website, but a few of the benefits of diversity monitoring identified by firms are set out below:

    • it helps us to identify which policies and practices are effective and direct our resources to where they will have most impact;
    • it enables us to identify where barriers exist that prevent the best use of all available talent;
    • it can help to prevent costly discrimination claims by identifying possible problems early;
    • it can help us to win business by evidencing our performance;
    • it helps us to strengthen our reputation.

A new approach for 2013

  • 7.

    In 2012, when these requirements were first introduced, the SRA provided firms with an online survey which they were asked to circulate to their workforce and individual responses across all regulated firms were collated by Surveylab for the SRA.

  • 8.

    The arrangements for collecting and reporting workforce diversity data from firms will be different in 2013. The main changes are:

    • The SRA is not offering an online survey in 2013, firms must make their own arrangements to collect their own workforce data.
    • There are minor changes to the diversity questions we will be using in 2013 but they will remain closely aligned to the LSB's model questionnaire.
    • Firms will be required to report their aggregated workforce data to the SRA.
    • Firms will be required to publish a summary of their workforce diversity data, for example on their website.

Which firms are covered by the requirement to collect workforce diversity data?

  • 9.

    The requirement applies to all firms regulated by the SRA, including sole practices, recognised bodies and alternative business structures.

  • 10.

    However, only one set of data is needed to cover firms which are "linked" to each other, for example, a firm and its corporate partners, or a firm and its trustee or nominee companies. Even though all such entities are regulated by the SRA and are covered by the requirement to collect workforce diversity data we do not need firms to collect, report and publish a separate set of data for each individual entity where they are linked.

  • 11.

    The main regulated firm should be identified (perhaps the main head office) and the response for that firm and all other linked firms should come as one submission from that global practice. Accordingly, directors, owners, and staff of the linked firms should be included with the submission of the main regulated firm. If firms have any questions about how to proceed, they should email the SRA at diversity@sra.org.uk .

  • 12.

    The requirements do not apply to regulated individuals working for in-house practices or other bodies not currently regulated by the SRA.

What are firms required to do?

  • 13.

    Firms regulated by the SRA are required to collect , report and publish workforce diversity data annually.

  • 14.

    The responsibility for making arrangements to collect, report and publish this data lies with firms.

What data needs to be collected?

  • 15.

    The SRA has published guidance for firms in compiling the diversity questionnaire which sets out the data that firms will need to collect. See Collecting diversity data .

  • 16.

    The SRA will only be able to accept the data from firms in a format which is consistent with the diversity questionnaire. However, firms may wish to add further guidance for their staff in the questionnaire and may wish to collect additional data from their workforce for their own use. A Word version of the diversity questionnaire (DOC 5 pages, 26K) is available for firms to adapt for their own use.

  • 17.

    For each of the questions in the diversity questionnaire, there are categories for individuals to select and each question has a 'prefer not to say' option. It is for each individual to classify themselves using these categories, and a firm must not attempt to complete the questionnaire on behalf of an individual within its workforce.

  • 18.

    Although they must be given an opportunity to provide their diversity data, individuals cannot be compelled to complete the questionnaire or provide their diversity data.

  • 19.

    As this process will involve firms collecting and processing sensitive personal data, firms will need to think about how to protect that data. The firm's arrangements will need to provide for reporting the aggregated data to the SRA. For information about data protection requirements please see the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) website .

  • 20.

    We have published a Publication Framework , about the requirement on firms to publish a summary of their workforce diversity data. The responsibility for compliance with the data protection legislation remains with the firm and firms will need to think carefully about this at the outset, not just at the point of publication.

Who should be included in the firm's diversity data collection?

  • 21.

    Everyone working at the firm should be covered by the workforce diversity data collection exercise, including owners of the firm and all other qualified and non qualified staff. Individuals will need to be classified in accordance with specified role categories. See Collecting diversity data to learn more about the role categories.

  • 22.

    The following people should be included in the diversity data collection:

    • full time and part time employees,
    • employees on maternity leave or on long term sick leave from the firm (but only if they are in contact with the firm during their absence and are willing to participate in the data collection),
    • temporary employees, those engaged by the firm under a secondment contract, consultants or other contracted staff where they have been or will be engaged on a contract for 3 months or longer.
  • 23.

    The following people should not be included in the diversity data collection:

    • people engaged in work which has been outsourced by the firm to another firm or company,
    • barristers or other experts engaged by the firm on individual matters,
    • people who are normally based outside England and Wales.

What needs to be reported to the SRA, when and how?

  • 24.

    Firms are required to input their aggregated diversity data into the Organisation Diversity Data page on mySRA by 31 January 2014. See Reporting diversity data for more detail about how to enter the data and to download a userguide to entering the data into mySRA.

  • 25.

    When reporting the data to the SRA, it will need to be broken down by the role categories set out above, so it is important that firms collect the data with reference to these categories.

What do firms have to publish and how?

  • 26.

    In addition to reporting the data to the SRA, firms are required to publish a summary of their workforce diversity data. The diversity categories of sexual orientation and religion or belief are exempt from the publication requirement, but data must still be collected from individuals by the firm and reported to the SRA.

  • 27.

    The responsibility for publishing this data rests with firms who must ensure that they are compliant with the data protection legislation. The publication requirement does not override the data protection legislation and firms must ensure that they comply with the data protection principles and do not publish data that may identify individuals within their firm.

  • 28.

    The SRA's Publication Framework contains further information about how to comply with the publication requirements.

Why have these requirements been imposed on firms?

  • 29.

    These requirements stem from the Legal Services Board's transparency project which requires approved regulators, such as the SRA, to ensure that the firms we regulate are collecting workforce diversity data. This is for the purpose of meeting the regulatory objectives in the Legal Services Act 2007, in particular 'encouraging an independent, strong, diverse and effective legal profession'.

  • 30.

    The SRA has imposed these requirements on regulated firms in order to comply with the LSB's expectations of us as an approved regulator. However, the requirements are consistent with Principle 9 from the Handbook which requires firms to 'encourage equality of opportunity and respect for diversity' and the outcomes in Chapter 2 of the Code of Conduct . Workforce diversity monitoring is one of the indicative behaviours set out in Chapter 2.

  • 31.

    The data will provide an aggregate view of the diversity make-up across the solicitors profession and ultimately across the whole legal services sector so we can track key trends. All the approved regulators are required therefore, to use the standard diversity questionnaire set by the LSB and are required to publish a report of aggregated diversity data for their respective regulated populations.

  • 32.

    The SRA has published a report of the diversity breakdown for the solicitors' profession in 2012 (PDF 20 pages, 1MB) and will publish the 2013 data in the Spring of 2014.

  • 33.

    The requirements will also promote transparency about workforce diversity at a firm level and this will provide an evidence base and an incentive on firms to take appropriate action to improve diversity and will make diversity information available to consumers, which they can use in making their choice of law firm.

How do these requirements fit with the SRA's outcomes-focused approach?

  • 32.

    Although this is a specific requirement which has been imposed on the SRA and firms by the LSB, we support the policy which is consistent with our risk-based outcomes-focused approach to regulation.

  • 33.

    Having diversity data is a fundamental prerequisite to understanding how patterns of inequality and disadvantage can occur for some groups in all sectors of society. The aggregated data for solicitors firms will help the SRA understand the dynamics of diversity within the profession.

  • 34.

    Most firms will find the data useful, for example to monitor their recruitment policy, or measure the impact of workplace policies and it provides an evidential basis to demonstrate delivery of the equality and diversity outcomes in chapter 2 of the SRA Code of Conduct. It makes good business sense for firms to access all the talent available in the marketplace and a diverse firm will be well equipped to access and serve a diverse community.


Please use www.sra.org.uk/diversitydata to link to this page.

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Collecting diversity data

Introduction

Firms regulated by the SRA are required to collect, report and publish workforce diversity data annually. This Guidance will assist firms in planning their arrangements for collecting the diversity data that they are required to report to the SRA.

It is the firm's responsibility to advise people working at the firm what the data is to be used for, who will have access, and to ensure that the data is collected, processed and reported in accordance with the data protection legislation.

Everyone working at the firm should be covered by the workforce diversity data collection exercise, including owners of the firm and all other qualified and non qualified staff. The aggregated data collected from everyone working at the firm must be reported to the SRA, broken down by the role categories set out in section 1 of this guidance document.

If a person works for more than one firm, they must only complete one questionnaire. They should determine the firm where they undertake the majority of their work - where they spend most of their time undertaking day-to-day work activities. If a person works for a number of firms on an equal basis, they should complete the questionnaire for the firm they have been working for the longest.

The data that needs to be collected includes:

  • information about a person's role, ownership and supervisory responsibilities in the firm
  • information about a person's protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010
  • information about socio economic factors (education) and caring responsibilities.

In sections 2 to 4 below we have set out the questions that firms will need to ask of their workforce. However, if you are collecting information for your workforce anonymously, then include section 1 of the questionnaire allowing individuals working at the firm to select the appropriate category themselves. We have added notes in shaded boxes for some of the questions.

Firms may wish to use the notes provided in this guidance or add further notes and will be able to ask additional questions of their staff in their version of the diversity questionnaire. However, firms will need to include all of the questions set out below and stick to the role categories provided for individuals to select in answer to these questions. This is because the reporting requirement will involve entering aggregated data into the Organisation Diversity Data page of mySRA for each of these questions using the set role categories. This will enable the SRA to collate this data consistently across the whole firm population.

All these questions and the requirement to break down that data in accordance with the role categories set out in section 1, are consistent with the Legal Services Board's published model questionnaire.

A Microsoft Word version of the diversity questionnaire (DOC 5 pages, 95K) is available for firms to adapt for their own use.

Section 1: Diversity data to be broken down into role categories

The data collected from everyone working at the firm must be broken down by the role categories set out in question 1 below when reporting the aggregated firm data to the SRA. If firms are collecting the data from individuals as part of an anonymous survey, they will need to ask individuals working at the firm to select the appropriate category themselves as part of the diversity questionnaire.

Please note an 'authorised person' is a person who is authorised by one of the approved regulators to carry on the relevant activity (defined by the Legal Services Act 2007). Solicitors with a current practising certificate, Registered European Lawyers and Registered Foreign Lawyers are 'authorised' by the SRA.

If a person is authorised by more that one approved regulator, they should be placed in the category which most accurately reflects their main role i.e. where they spend a greater proportion of their time in their day to day work activities. Similarly, if the person fulfils more than one role, they should be placed in the category which most accurately reflects their main role.

(Please note that this section provides the role categories that the data collected from everyone should be broken down by when reporting this information to the SRA. Individuals will need to be given the opportunity to select these categories themselves if you are collecting your information anonymously).

1. Select the category which best reflects your role in the firm.

Role category Notes Please tick
Solicitor (sole practitioner, partner, member or director) Individuals who are authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) - not including non lawyer members or directors who are covered by the 'Managerial role' category below  
Solicitor Individuals who are authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) - to include all other practising solicitors including assistant solicitors, associates or consultants  
Other fee earning role Not an authorised person eg trainee solicitors, legal executives (who are not chartered or a fellow) and paralegals, but excluding those in Managerial roles (see below)  
Role directly supporting a fee earner Not an authorised person (e.g. legal secretaries, administrators, legal assistants, or non fee earning paralegals)  
Managerial role Not an authorised person (e.g. non lawyer managers, directors, practice managers)  
IT/HR/other corporate services role Not an authorised person and not individuals in a managerial role - includes finance or accountancy roles  
Barrister Individuals who are authorised by the Bar Standards Board  
Chartered Legal Executive (Fellow of CILEx) Individuals who are authorised by ILEX Professional Standards  
Licensed Conveyancer Individuals who are authorised by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers  
Patent or Trade Mark Attorney Individuals who are authorised by the Intellectual Property Regulation Board  
Costs Lawyer Individuals who are authorised by the Costs Lawyer Standards Board  
Notary Individuals who are authorised by the Master of the Faculties  
Prefer not to say    

Section 2: Questions about ownership and supervisory responsibilities in the firm

2. How would you describe your role in the firm?

Sole practitioner, partner, member or director of the firm  
Associate or Assistant  
Other employee or staff member  
Prefer not to say  

3. Do you have a share in the ownership of your organisation (eg equity partner, shareholder)?

Yes  
No  
Prefer not to say  

4. Do you have responsibility for supervising or managing the work of lawyers or other employees?

Yes  
No  
Prefer not to say  

Section 3: Diversity questions (protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2012)

Age

5. From the list of age bands below, please indicate the category that includes your current age in years:

16 - 24  
25 - 34  
35 - 44  
45 - 54  
55 - 64  
65+  
Prefer not to say  

Gender

6. What is your gender?

Female  
Male  
Prefer not to say  

Please note: The SRA is not asking firms to collect transgender information at this time, it is sensitive personal data and is not required by the Legal Services Board's model questionnaire.

Disability

7. The Equality Act 2010 generally defines a disabled person as someone who has a mental or physical impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the person's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

    (a) Do you consider yourself to have a disability according to the definition in the Equality Act?
    Yes  
    No  
    Prefer not to say  

Please note: If an individual has a condition which fits the Equality Act definition, they should tick 'Yes' to this question even if they do not feel in any way limited by that condition.

    (b) Are your day-to-day activities limited because of a health problem or disability which has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months?
    Yes, limited a lot  
    Yes, limited a little  
    No  
    Prefer not to say  

Please note: An individual may have a condition that is currently limiting their day-to-day activities, this condition may or may not come within the legal definition of disabled set out above.

Ethnic group

8. What is your ethnic group?

Asian / Asian British
Bangladeshi  
Chinese  
Indian  
Pakistani  
Any other Asian background  
Black/Black British
African  
Caribbean  
Any other Black background  
Mixed / multiple ethnic groups
White and Asian  
White and Black African  
White and Black Caribbean  
White and Chinese  
Any other Mixed / multiple ethnic background  
White
British / English / Welsh / Northern Irish / Scottish  
Irish  
Gypsy or Irish Traveller  
Any other White background  
Other ethnic group
Arab  
Any other ethnic group  
Prefer not to say
Prefer not to say  

Please note:Firms may wish to collect details about an individual's 'other' ethnic group for their own purposes (for example by providing a text box for individuals to complete)but the SRA's reporting facilitynot allow firms to enter this information.

Religion or belief

9. What is your religion or belief?

No religion or belief / Atheist  
Buddhist  
Christian  
Hindu  
Jewish  
Muslim  
Sikh  
Any other religion  
Prefer not to say  

Please note: We appreciate that many people feel that Agnosticism and Atheism should be recorded as separate categories, but we are following the LSB model questionnaire in our choice of categories. If an individual is Agnostic or Atheist and does not wish to tick the 'No religion or belief / Atheist' box, they may wish to tick the 'prefer not to say' box.

Firms may wish to collect details about the individual's 'other' religion or belief for their own purposes (for example by providing a text box for individuals to complete) but the SRA's reporting facility will not allow firms to enter this information.

Although this data must be aggregated and reported anonymously to the SRA, firms will not be required to publish workforce data for this category of diversity information. This exemption was included in the LSB's arrangements which the SRA has followed, but it is good practice to publish all diversity data that has been collected, so long as the publication does not lead to the identification of any individuals.

Sexual orientation

10. What is your sexual orientation?

Bisexual  
Gay man  
Gay woman/lesbian  
Heterosexual/straight  
Other  
Prefer not to say  

Please note:Firms may wish to collect details about the person's 'other' sexual orientation for their own purposes (for example by providing a text box for individuals to complete) but the SRA's reporting facility will not allow firms to enter this information.

Although this data must be aggregated and reported anonymously to the SRA, firms will not be required to publish workforce data for this category of diversity information. This exemption was included in the LSB's arrangements which the SRA has followed, but it is good practice to publish all diversity data that has been collected, so long as the publication does not lead to the identification of any individuals.

Section 4: Socio-economic background (education and caring responsibilities)

Education

11. Did you mainly attend a state or fee paying school between the ages 11 – 18?

UK State School  
UK Independent/Fee-paying School  
Attended school outside the UK  
Prefer not to say  

Please note: If an individual changed their type of school during their education, or were educated partly in the UK and partly outside, they should select the category that applies to their main place of education in the last two years of their education.

12. If you went to University (to study a BA, BSc course or higher), were you part of the first generation of your family to do so?

Yes  
No  
Did not attend University  
Prefer not to say  

Caring responsibilities

13. Are you a primary carer for a child or children under 18?

Yes  
No  
Prefer not to say  

14. Do you look after, or give any help or support to family members, friends, neighbours or others because of either:

  • Long-term physical or mental ill-health / disability
  • Problems related to old age?

(Do not count anything you do as part of your paid employment)

No  
Yes, 1 - 19 hours a week  
Yes, 20 - 49 hours a week  
Yes, 50 or more hours a week  
Prefer not to say  

Please note: If an individual looks after more than one person, they should total the hours spent caring for both or all individuals and select the correct category for the total number of hours.

Self-classification

It is important when collecting this information that the firm does not make assumptions about a person's diversity data - individuals must be allowed to self classify on all of the diversity categories.

Although they must be given an opportunity to provide their data, individuals cannot be compelled to complete the diversity questionnaire or provide their diversity data. However, they may be prepared to complete the diversity questionnaire, selecting the option of 'prefer not to say' for one or more of the questions.

Data protection considerations

It is the firm's responsibility to advise people working at the firm what the data is to be used for, who will have access and to ensure that the data is collected, processed and reported in accordance with the data protection legislation.

Using the diversity data

Firms will need to think about what they will be doing with the diversity data and make this clear to individuals before or at the point of collection. Individuals will want reassurance that their response will remain confidential and may have questions about the arrangements the firm has for keeping their data secure and who will have access.

The diversity data will be much more useful to a firm if it is collected and held in a way that can be confidentially linked to the individual. This can be done by asking individuals to identify themselves on the form, but making sure that the data is held by reference to a confidential identification number. In this way, it can be used to monitor a range of employment activities over time, such as promotion, pay rates, or recruitment practices. It is particularly important that such data is held securely and individuals are advised how the data will be used. It will be for the firm to consider whether this may mean individuals are less likely to provide their data at all or are more likely to select 'prefer not to say' for one or more categories. Monitoring data should always be used in the form of anonymous statistics.

Publishing the diversity data

Firms will be required to publish a summary of their workforce diversity data and there is further information about this in our Publication framework . Firms need to be careful about publishing diversity data, even anonymous data, where there is a risk that individuals may be identifiable.

The Information Commissioners Office has published a code of practice on publishing anonymous data; " Anonymisation: managing data protection risk " which provides useful advice about how to guard against the risk of publishing data that might lead to the identification of an individual or individuals.

Reporting the diversity data to the SRA

Firms will need to make it clear to individuals that the data will be aggregated and reported to the SRA and the SRA in turn will be publishing the data aggregated across the profession. The SRA will collate and report firm data across the whole firm population of England and Wales - we will not publish the aggregated data of any individual firm.

The aggregated firm data will have to be reported to the SRA on the Organisation Diversity Data page of mySRA, and the information will be accessible to the individuals nominated by the firm as authorised signatories or organisation contacts. If a firm has a number of regulated entities which are "linked" to each other, for example a firm and its corporate partners, or a firm and its trustee or nominee companies, then the authorised signatories and organisation contacts of all the regulated entities which are linked will be able to access the aggregated data.

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Reporting diversity data

Firms regulated by the SRA are required to collect, report and publish workforce diversity data annually. Once the data has been collected from individuals at the firm, it needs to be reported to the SRA. Firms are required to input their aggregated diversity data into the Organisation Diversity Data page on mySRA by 31 January 2014 .

Before entering the diversity data into mySRA, please remember:

  • You will need to have given individuals at the firm an opportunity to provide their diversity data in accordance with the questions set out in the SRA's diversity questionnaire (DOC 5 pages, 26K) .
  • This data needs to be aggregated across the firm, so you have the total number of responses for each question asked in the questionnaire.
  • These responses need to be broken down by the prescribed role categories (see Collecting diversity data for more information).
  • Only one set of data is required to cover firms which are "linked" to each other, for example a firm and its corporate partners, a firm and its trustee or nominee company. You should collect and aggregate the diversity data for each of the linked entities, making sure not to collect data from any individual twice. The main firm providing legal services should be identified and the diversity data entered into the Organisation Diversity Data section of mySRA for that firm. Within this section of mySRA you will be able to select and link all the other entities which are linked to the main firm. This should be done before you enter the diversity data.

You can download a user guide (PDF 10 pages, 162K) to entering the diversity data into mySRA. The guide will explain how to link entities to the main firm and how to input the diversity data for each question.

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Publication Framework

Introduction

Firms regulated by the SRA are required to collect, report and publish workforce diversity data annually. This framework is intended to highlight a number of key factors for firms to consider when publishing a summary of their workforce diversity data in compliance with the SRA's publication requirements.

The framework is not intended to provide comprehensive guidance to firms in managing their compliance with data protection legislation. Detailed and comprehensive guidance can be obtained from the Information Commissioner's Office website .

Further guidance about monitoring diversity data is available on the Law Society's website in particular the Monitoring and Reporting Protocol Guidance published for signatories to the Law Society's Diversity and Inclusion Charter signatories.

Collecting and processing workforce diversity data

To make the diversity data collection exercise successful and to encourage individuals to respond, it is important that firms explain what they are doing, why and how the firm will benefit. Individuals will also want reassurance that their response will remain confidential and may have questions about the arrangements the firm has for keeping their data secure and who will have access.

The firm must give each individual within the workforce an opportunity to complete the diversity questionnaire. It is important when collecting this information that the firm does not make assumptions about a person's diversity data - individuals must be allowed to self classify on all of the categories.

Individuals are not obliged to provide a firm with their diversity data. They may be prepared to complete the diversity questionnaire, selecting the option of 'prefer not to say' for one or more of the questions, but they may not wish to complete the questionnaire at all.

Firms will also need to think specifically about what they will be doing with the diversity data and make this clear to individuals before and/or at the point of collection.

The diversity data will be much more useful to a firm if it is collected and held in a way that can be confidentially linked to the individual. This can be done by asking individuals to identify themselves on the form, but making sure that the data is held by reference to a confidential identification number. In this way, it can be used to monitor a range of employment activities over time, such as promotion, pay rates, or recruitment practices. It is particularly important that such data is held securely and individuals are advised how the data will be used. Monitoring data should always be used in the form of anonymous statistics.

It would be good practice to set out a clear and comprehensive explanation of the purposes for which the data will be used at the beginning of the questionnaire, and to require an individual to confirm their understanding that, by continuing with the questionnaire, they are consenting to the use of their diversity data for the purposes described.

Reporting the diversity data to the SRA

Firms will need to make it clear to individuals that the data will be aggregated and reported to the SRA and the SRA in turn will be publishing the data aggregated across the profession. The SRA will collate and report firm data across the whole firm population of England and Wales - we will not publish the aggregated data of any individual firm.

The aggregated firm data will have to be reported to the SRA on the Organisation Diversity Data page of mySRA and the information will be accessible to individuals nominated by the firm as authorised signatories or organisation contacts. If a firm has a number of regulated entities which are "linked" to each other, for example a firm and its corporate partners, or a firm and its trustee or nominee companies, then the authorised signatories and organisation contacts of all the regulated entities which are linked will be able to access the aggregated data.

Publishing workforce diversity data

The SRA requires firms to publish a summary of their workforce diversity data but this is qualified in the following ways:

  • Firms are not required to publish a summary of the workforce diversity data relating to the sexual orientation or to the religion or belief of their workforce;
  • The SRA has not prescribed the manner or format in which a firm is required to publish a summary of their workforce data;
  • Firms must comply with the data protection principles and legislation when publishing a summary of their workforce diversity data and these regulatory requirements are not intended to override this.

The following broad guidance is intended to assist firms in complying with the requirement to publish:

  • Data should not be published in a way that allows any individual to be identified.
  • In November 2012, the ICO published a code of practice on publishing anonymous data: Anonymisation: managing data protection risk which provides useful advice about how to guard against the risk of publishing data that might lead to the identification of an individual or individuals.
  • The ICO emphasises in this code of practice that the Data Protection Act does not require anonymisation to be completely risk free – firms must be able to mitigate the risk of identification until it is remote.
  • Sole practitioners and smaller firms are likely to find they cannot publish their workforce diversity data without the risk of identification and in such circumstances, the SRA will not expect them to comply with the publication requirement.
  • Even large firms will need to consider how they might mitigate the risk of identification. Publication of the data broken down by each one of the role categories specified may reveal only a few individuals in one of those roles. If data is published at this level of detail, the individuals in those roles may be identifiable. Firms in this position may combine some of the role categories or publish the data for the whole firm without breaking it down by role categories at all.
  • Firms may wish to publish the summary of their workforce data on their website in a place where individuals can easily access it or, if they do not have a website, perhaps by putting up a notice at their place of work informing individuals that a copy of workforce diversity data is available free of charge on request.
  • Firms should ensure that the data is published in a clear and accessible manner. For example, explaining the meaning of any abbreviations or acronyms which are used.

When to publish

Firms should publish their diversity data annually at a time which is convenient to the firm. The SRA does not have a set date by which the publication should be made, but firms should be able to demonstrate annual publication on a cycle that suits the firm.

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Q. I have missed the deadline for reporting my firm's diversity data. What do I do?

A. You will still need to collect, report and publish your firm's data as outlined in this guidance, as these are ongoing requirements. You may also be contacted by our Supervision department to find out why you were unable to meet the deadline for reporting this data to the SRA.

We have listed our most commonly received questions around the reporting requirement along with a troubleshooting guide for any IT issues.

See further questions and answers about:

Reporting diversity data to the SRA

Q1. How do we report the firm diversity data to the SRA?

A. We have created a new page on mySRA under the heading Organisation Diversity Data . This will only be visible to Organisation Contacts and Authorised Signatories for a firm. In order to input your firm's diversity data, you will need to log into your mySRA account. From the left-hand menu, select My Organisations and select the organisation whose data you intend to enter. This should load up a new drop-down menu and you will need to select the option 'Organisation Diversity Data.' You will then be presented with a number of tabs. You will need to start by viewing the 'Organisation Selection' tab and then completing the 'Totals' tab before proceeding to enter the diversity data. The user guide that my colleague provided you with will further help explain how to input the diversity data once you're into mySRA.

Q2. How do I know that the data has been received by the SRA once it has been inputted? Is there a 'submit' button at the end of the process?

A. No. If you have saved each page and are able to see the data that you have entered, it will have been recorded on our system successfully.

Q3. Can we upload our results to mySRA rather than having to input all the data manually?

A. No, the data will have to be inputted manually but it is easy to use and a user guide is available. To download the user guide, select Reporting diversity data above.

Q4. My firm has carried out the survey anonymously and has asked our staff to select their own role categories as part of the questionnaire but I am now only able to complete the Totals tab for those people who answered this question. The Totals tab, however, requests a breakdown of the total firm workforce broken down by role category. What do I do?

A. The total figures in the Totals tab should reflect the total number of people working at your firm. You will need to calculate the number of people that did not respond to the questionnaire and add this figure to the 'prefer not to say' category. Our Management Information team should be able to extract those that did not respond to enable us to retrieve a response rate for the firm.

Q5. My firm asked our staff to select their own role categories as part of the questionnaire but we know from our own firm data that some of the information they have provided is incorrect. What do I do?

A. If you did not conduct the survey anonymously and are able to track the responses back to an individual, you can amend the incorrect role category that they have identified if you can also ensure that the diversity data provided by the individual is moved to the correct role category. If the survey was carried out anonymously, you will not be able to correct the role category in the Totals tab. Firms are reminded that they cannot amend the diversity data provided by an individual as this was collected on a self-classification basis.

Q6. I am receiving an error message when I enter information into the Employment and Ownership tab and I cannot proceed to the following tabs.

A. Firms are mostly receiving this error message because they are attempting to enter figures in the 'prefer not to say' box for role categories in the Employment and Ownership tab.

This tends to be occurring where firms are providing information on the role categories in the Totals tab on the basis of their known firm breakdown, but asking their staff to complete the Employment and Ownership questions themselves.

As the figure for each column must be equal or less than the same column in the Totals tab, firms will not be able to proceed to the next tab until this has been rectified. Firms can rectify this error through one of the following options;

  • a) If you can identify the individual who selected 'prefer not to say' for the Employment and Ownership questions, you can add them to the 'prefer not to say' option in the Totals tab and remove them from the role you originally assigned them to.
  • b) If you have carried out the exercise anonymously, you should base the role categories in the Totals tab on the responses that you have received, rather than the known firm breakdown. The total figures in the Totals tab should reflect the total number of people working at your firm, therefore, you will need to calculate the number of people that did not respond to the questionnaire and add this figure to the 'prefer not to say' category.

Q7. Are small firms and sole practitioners required to collect the diversity data even if it means that the personal data of individuals cannot be kept confidential?

A. Yes. All firms regulated by the SRA are required to collect the data, so you will have to give everyone at the firm the opportunity to complete the diversity questionnaire, but you should reassure them that they are not obliged to completed the questionnaire or alternatively could select 'prefer not to say' for one or more of the questions.

Q8. I have already entered my own diversity data in mySRA. Why do I have to provide it again for this firm diversity data exercise?

A. The firm-based diversity data collection includes individuals who are not authorised by the SRA. Unfortunately, we were not able to collect data from these individuals and link them to the individual data held for authorised individuals on mySRA.

Q9. Will Diversity and Inclusion Charter members have to report their diversity data twice - to the Law Society and to the SRA?

A. Yes, although only one set of diversity data needs to be collected by charter firms this year, the data does have to be reported twice. The SRA reporting arrangements require the firm to enter the data into their own mySRA account and this can only be accessed by the Organisation Contact and Authorised Signatory. Firms should refer to the Law Society for details of the reporting requirements applicable to the Diversity and Inclusion Charter.

Q10. What if there has been no change in the diversity data when I come to report the data next year?

A. We will be working on the arrangements for next year and hope to provide an easy way for firms to confirm when there has been no change.

Q11. Who can enter the diversity data into mySRA?

A. Only the Organisation Contact and the Authorised Signatory for the firm will be able to enter and view the firm diversity data on mySRA.

Q12. Who can see the diversity data in the firm once it has been inputted into mySRA?

A. Only the Authorised Signatories and Organisation Contacts for your firm will be able to view the aggregated firm data on mySRA when it is has been entered. However, if your firm is linked to other organisations (such as corporate partners, trustee or nominee companies), the Authorised Signatories and Organisation Contacts for all the linked firms will be able to view the amalgamated data.

Q13. What does the SRA intend to do with the data once it has been reported to them?

A. The SRA will publish a report setting out the diversity profile of the profession highlighting any key findings or trends emerging as a result of the data collection process. This information will help us to better understand the impact of our work, and inform how we develop our approach to regulation. The data will be aggregated, and it will not be possible to identify a particular firm from the data that we publish. The data collected from the the exercise in 2012 is published on our website.

Troubleshooting

Q14. The page keeps freezing/ I can't see all of the tabs. What is wrong?

A. There is a known problem with some browsers. There are a number of actions you can take set out below. Each action may resolve the issues you are experiencing, however if the problems persists try the next action suggested.

1. Install the latest free Microsoft Internet Explorer as this is compatible with our systems and will enable you to complete the exercise. Please note that Internet Explorer 11 is not compatible - therefore proceed onto step 4.

2. If you are definitely running a Microsoft Windows PC and using Internet Explorer we suggest that you ensure that the site is compatible with the latest version of Internet Explorer. Please ensure:

  • a) that your operating system is up to date, with all updates from Microsoft and to try again
  • b) that you view the screen in full screen, not as a small window
  • c) you refresh the page (right mouse click, select Refresh from the menu that appears)

3. Set Internet Explorer to view the SRA website in 'Compatibility Mode'. To do this, in Internet Explorer, select Tools, Compatibility View Settings, and select 'Add', to add mySRA. The screen will refresh and this may make a difference.

4. Try downloading the free Mozilla Firefox browser, and try accessing the mySRA site with that.

Finally, if you continue to experience issues after taking the steps above please try the following:

5. Using a different PC, or to try on a PC that is not on your company network (e.g. from a home PC).

If these have not resolved your issues please contact us so we can look into his further for you.

Scope of the requirements

Q15. Do small firms and sole practitioners have to comply with the data collection requirements?

A. Yes, all firms regulated by the SRA, however large or small, are included. This includes recognised bodies, sole practitioners and licensed bodies/alternative business structures.

Q16. Do the requirements apply to in-house lawyers?

A. No, the requirement applies to firms regulated by the SRA.

Q17. Does the requirement cover individual solicitors who work for more than one firm?

A. If a solicitor is providing services to more than one firm, that solicitor will be covered by the survey and should complete a survey for the firm where he or she undertakes the majority of their work ie where they spend most of their time undertaking day-to-day work activities. If a person works for a number of firms on an equal basis, they should complete the questionnaire for the firm they have been working for the longest.

Q18. Should consultants be included in the diversity data collection for our firm?

A. Yes, consultants who have been or will be engaged on a contract for 3 months or longer should be included, whether they are paid through invoices or through the pay roll. Consultants should be included within the appropriate role category as if they were employees.

Q19. I am the Authorised Signatory for a corporate partner/nominee/trustee firm, does my firm have to respond to the data collection requirements?

A. You are covered by the diversity data requirements if your firm is regulated by the SRA, but please communicate with the main firm providing legal services and all other entities which are linked to that firm and make arrangements to collect one set of diversity data for all entities. You will be able to link all related entities together in mySRA for reporting purposes. For guidance on how to do this, please download our mySRA Diversity Data Entry user guide from the reporting diversity data tab.

Collecting diversity data

Q20. What changes have been made to the diversity questionnaire for 2013?

A. There are a few minor changes to the diversity questionnaire this year, and most of these changes have been made to more closely align the questions to the Legal Services Board's model questionnaire:

  • there is no question asking about the type of disability an individual may have,
  • we are not asking about workplace reasonable adjustments for disabled people,
  • we have no longer included a separate category for atheist in the religion or belief section, this is now included in the 'no religion or belief' category and
  • there is no longer an option to select 'grammar school' in the question about your education.
We have also recently amended the wording of the Chartered Legal Executive role category in the diversity questionnaire in line with a request made to us by the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx). This role category is now described as 'Chartered Legal Executive (Fellow of CILEx)' with the notes section reading 'Authorised by ILEX Professional Standards.' The online reporting tool on mySRA will shortly be updated to reflect this change.

Q21. I would like to outsource the diversity data collection exercise for my firm, is this acceptable?

A. Yes, there are a number of companies who are offering this service for legal firms and the Law Society has developed a tool to help firms collect their diversity data. More information about this tool can be found on the Law Society's website. Whilst you may decide to hire a third party to collect your firm's diversity data, it is important to bear in mind that only those that are Authorised Signatories or Organisation Contacts for the firm will be able to input this data via mySRA.

Publishing diversity data

Q22. Are firms required to fulfil the publishing requirements if it means that individuals will be identifiable?

A. No, it is for the firm to consider the data in accordance with the data protection legislation and firms are entitled to make a reasoned decision not to publish if an individual might be identified from that publication. It would be sensible to record this, so you can demonstrate your approach in the event that your firm is contacted by the SRA about this or investigated for any reason.

Q23. Does the firm need to apply to the SRA for an exemption or waiver from the publication requirement if the firm decides that it cannot publish its diversity data because there is a risk that individuals could be identified?

A. If you decide that you cannot publish some or all of your diversity data you do not need to apply for any exemption or waiver from the SRA. We will be satisfied that you have complied with the requirements of the diversity data requirements if you have collected and reported the diversity data to us, and have considered the data in accordance with the data protection legislation and made a reasoned decision not to publish. You may wish to review the guidance on our website, in particular the Publication Framework, before making this decision. You may also wish to record your decision so that you can demonstrate your approach in the event that your firm is contacted by the SRA about this or investigated for any reason as there is not any provision for us to capture this information on mySRA at present.

Compliance

Q24. What action will the SRA take if a firm does not comply with the requirements?

A. This is a regulatory requirement and we expect every firm regulated by the SRA to comply. Where firms do not provide the information requested we may need to consider their lack of co-operation as a compliance issue in which case enforcement action will follow.

Q25. What happens if an individual at a firm refuses to respond to the diversity questionnaire?

A. Firms must give everyone at the firm an opportunity to complete the questionnaire and we do expect firms to encourage their staff to complete the questionnaire by explaining the purpose of the exercise and giving them appropriate assurances about confidentiality. If individuals have concerns about one or more questions within the diversity questionnaire they will be able to select "prefer not to say" for these questions. Stonewall provides excellent guidance for employers, their workplace guide Using Monitoring data. Making the most of sexual orientation data collection . The advice is helpful across all areas of diversity monitoring. However, please note that individuals are not under any legal or regulatory obligation to complete the questionnaire or provide their diversity data.

Q26. On what basis is the SRA making this a regulatory requirement?

A. The requirement on firms to collect, report and publish diversity data stems from the Legal Services Board's decision document Increasing diversity and social mobility in the legal workforce: transparency and evidence (PDF 56 pages, 473K) , dated July 2011. This in line with the SRA's policy in this area and reflected in the principles and rules in the Handbook, see for example:

  • Principle 9 which states: 'you must run your business or carry out your role in the business in a way that encourages equality of opportunity and respect for diversity'. The outcomes for equality and diversity are set out in Chapter 2 of the Code of Conduct 2011 and the indicative behaviours in that chapter include firms having a written equality and diversity policy which is appropriate to the size and nature of the firm and includes the firm's arrangements for workforce diversity monitoring.
  • Principle 7 which states: 'you must comply with your legal and regulatory obligations and deal with your regulators and ombudsmen in an open, timely and co-operative manner'.

Miscellaneous

Q27. How is this exercise different from the Law Society Diversity and Inclusion Charter monitoring survey and the Diversity League Table compiled by the Black Solicitors Network (BSN)?

A. Neither the Law Society nor the BSN surveys are related to the SRA's regulatory requirement on all firms to collect, report and publish diversity data. You can read more about the diversity monitoring element of the the Law Society's Diversity and Inclusion Charter on their website. The charter is open for all firms to sign up to and the monitoring commitments have this year been aligned to the SRA regulatory requirements. You can read more about the BSN survey on their website.

Q28. Was the profession consulted about these requirements?

A. The Legal Services Board did consult widely and also engaged with the profession about the proposals. Information about the consultation process is published on the LSB's website (see Closed consultations - Legal Services Board ) under the title "15 December - Increasing diversity in the workforce".

Q29. Where can I get more advice about equality and diversity?

A. For more information about your regulatory obligations in relation to equality and diversity, please see Principle 9 in the Handbook and Chapter 2 of the Code of Conduct . The Law Society has further guidance for the profession which you can access from their website here.

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The SRA has published a report on aggregated diversity data collected from solicitors' firms in 2012.

You can download the report: Diversity in the legal profession (PDF 20 pages, 1MB) .

For the full data set, please email diversity@sra.org.uk .

In September 2012, we carried out a number of thematic supervision visits with sample firms to discuss their experience of meeting the new equality and diversity outcomes. Our overall findings from the visits are detailed in a report, which looks at what is working well within firms alongside recognising some of the challenges they still face. See Thematic study of compliance with Principle 9: Encouraging equality of opportunity and respect for diversity, April 2013 (PDF 31 pages, 535K) .