Equality and Diversity.

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1 Our commitment to equality and diversity

(a) Commitment

We at Dunipace Brown are fully committed to eliminating unlawful discrimination and to promoting equality and diversity within our policies, practices and procedures. This firm will not tolerate discrimination or harassment on any grounds. We are also committed to promoting equality and diversity within our organization. This policy applies to our professional dealings with clients, staff and partners, other solicitors, advocates, other professionals and third parties.

 

We shall treat everyone equally and with the same attention, courtesy and respect regardless of:

 

(a) age; (b) disability; (c) gender reassignment; (d) race; (e) religion or belief; (f) sex; (g) sexual orientation;

 

(h) marriage or civil partnership status;. (i) pregnancy and maternity or (j) caring responsibility.

 

This firm will comply fully with the undernoted terms of Rule B1.15 of the Law Society of Scotland

 

(b) Legislation

We will take all reasonable steps to ensure that we and our staff do not unlawfully discriminate under the terms of any legislation in force from time to time relating to discrimination in employment and the provision of goods, facilities or services.

 

2. Meeting Clients Needs

(a) General statement

As a provider of publicly funded and private legal services we will treat all clients equally and fairly and not unlawfully discriminate against them. Dunipace Brown will also, wherever possible, take steps to promote equal opportunity in relation to access to the legal services that we provide, taking account of the diversity of the communities that we serve. Whilst the firm is generally free to decide whether to accept instructions from any particular client, any refusal to act will not be based upon any of the forbidden grounds, and

the firm will take all reasonable steps to meet the different needs of particular clients arising from its obligations.

 

(b) Identifying clients needs

Dunipace Brown is committed to meeting the diverse needs of all of our clients. We will take steps to identify the needs of clients in our community and develop policies and procedures setting out how we will meet clients‟ needs and for ensuring that the services we provide are accessible to all. We will take account, in particular, the needs of clients with a disability and clients who are unable to communicate effectively in English. We will consider whether particular groups are predominant within our client base and devise appropriate policies to meet their needs: including men and women; carers; children; the elderly; members of religious groups; ethnic groups or nationalities; and lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people.

 

(c) Communications Plan

Dunipace Brown will devise policies and procedures to promote and raise awareness of policies and procedures for ensuring that our services are accessible for a diverse range of clients. Our communications plan sets out what steps we have taken or/ and will take to put in place customer service policies and procedures to make our services accessible to clients. It contains a list of policies and procedures; information about what steps we will take to put them in place; who is responsible for them; and how we will make our policies and procedures openly available for the public.

 

Employees and partners will be informed of the Communications Plan and training provided where appropriate to ensure that it is effectively implemented.

 

(d) Harassment of staff

Dunipace Brown value their staff. The bullying and/or harassment of staff members by third parties will not be tolerated. Complaints made by staff members will be investigated promptly and thoroughly.

 

3. Dealings with third parties

(a) General statement

Dunipace Brown will not unlawfully discriminate in dealings with third parties. This applies to dealings with other legal service providers and general procurement.

(b) Dealings with Advocates and Solicitor-Advocates Dunipace Brown will instruct Counsel solely on the basis of their skill, experience and ability and not discriminate on the basis of a protected characteristic.

 

4. Employment

(a) General statement

As an employer, Dunipace Brown will treat all employees and job applicants equally and fairly and not unlawfully discriminate against them. This applies equally to voluntary positions and anyone undertaking work experience with us. This will, for example, include arrangements for recruitment and selection, terms and conditions of employment, access to training opportunities, access to promotion and transfers, grievance and disciplinary processes, demotions, selection for redundancies, dress code, references, bonus schemes, work allocation and any other employment related activities.

 

(b) Recruitment and selection

Dunipace Brown recognises the benefits of having a diverse workforce and will take steps to ensure that:

 

(i) we endeavour to recruit from the widest pool of qualified candidates practicable;

 

(ii) employment opportunities are open and accessible to all on the basis of their individual qualities and personal merit;

 

(iii) where appropriate, positive action measures are taken to attract applications from all sections of society and especially from those groups which are underrepresented in the workforce;

 

(iv) selection criteria and processes do not unlawfully discriminate on the grounds of sex (including marital status, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity and paternity), sexual orientation

(including civil partnership status), religion or belief, age or disability; other than in those instances where Dunipace Brown is exercising permitted positive action or a permitted exemption;

 

(v) wherever appropriate and necessary, lawful exemptions (genuine occupational requirements) will be used to recruit suitable staff to meet the special needs of particular groups;

 

(vi) all recruitment agencies acting for the Dunipace Brown are aware of requirements not to discriminate and to act accordingly.

 

(c) Conditions of service

Dunipace Brown will treat all employees equally and create a working environment which is free from unlawful discrimination and harassment and which respects the diverse backgrounds and beliefs of employees. Terms and conditions of service for employees will comply both with anti-discrimination legislation and the Firm's Equality and Diversity policy. The provision of benefits such as flexible working hours, maternity and other leave arrangements, performance appraisal systems, dress code, bonus schemes and any other conditions of employment will not unlawfully discriminate against any employee on the grounds of a protected characteristic.

Where appropriate and necessary, the firm will take reasonable steps to provide appropriate facilities and conditions of service which take into account the specific needs of employees which arise from their ethnic or cultural background; gender and gender reassignment; responsibilities as carers; disability; religion or belief or sexual orientation.

 

(d) Promotion and career development

Promotion within Dunipace Brown (including to partners) will be made without reference to any of the protected characteristics and will be based solely on merit. The selection criteria and processes for recruitment and promotion will be kept under review to ensure that there is no unjustifiably discriminatory impact on any particular group.

While positive action measures may be taken in accordance with relevant anti-discrimination legislation to encourage applications from under-represented groups, appointments to all jobs will be based solely on merit. All employees will have equal access to training and other career development opportunities appropriate to their experience and abilities. However, Dunipace Brown will take appropriate positive action measures (as permitted by the anti-discrimination legislation) to provide special training and support for groups which are under- represented in the workforce and encourage them to take up training and career development opportunities.

 

(e) Training Plan

Dunipace Brown will identify equality and diversity training needs and draw up a plan to address these as appropriate to their responsibilities. The plan will include details of the sort of training that will be provided, who will be trained, when training will be provided and who is responsible in the Dunipace Brown for ensuring that training is delivered. Employees and partners will be informed of this equality and diversity policy and training plan.

 

(f) Working with other organisations

All those who act on behalf of Dunipace Brown will be informed of this equality and diversity policy and will be expected to pay due regard to it when conducting business on our behalf. In all its dealings, including those with any consortium members Dunipace Brown will seek to promote the principles of equality and diversity.

 

5. Implementing the policy

(a) Responsibility

Ultimate responsibility for implementing the policy rests with Dunipace Brown, who will appoint a senior person within it to be responsible for the operation of the policy. All employees and partners of Dunipace Brown 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.

Acts of unlawful discrimination or harassment on any of the forbidden grounds by employees or partners of Dunipace Brown will result in disciplinary action. Failure to comply with this policy will be treated in a similar fashion. The policy applies to all who are employed in Dunipace Brown and to all partners.

 

(b) Complaints of discrimination

Dunipace Brown will treat seriously all complaints of unlawful discrimination or harassment on any of the forbidden grounds made by employees, partners, clients, advocates or other third parties promptly and thoroughly.

 

All complaints will be investigated promptly and thoroughly by a senior member within the firm in accordance with the Firm's our complaints procedure. and Tthe complainant will be informed of the outcome. We will also seek to monitor the number and outcome of complaints of discrimination or harassment made by staff, clients, partners, advocates and other third parties.

 

(c) Monitoring

(1) Dunipace Brown will monitor and record equal opportunities information about staff, and partners on the basis of age, gender, ethnicity, and disability.

 

(2) 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, we will monitor the sexual orientation and religion or belief of staff, and partners so as to ensure that they are not being discriminated against in terms of the opportunities or benefits available to them. We are aware that individuals may choose not to disclose their sexual orientation or religion or belief and that care will be taken to avoid inadvertent discrimination in such cases.

 

We will store Eequal opportunities data will be regarded as confidential personal data and restrict access to this information. And will be stored in accordance with the Firm's Data Protection policy. Equal opportunities information will be used for exclusively for the purposes of equal opportunities monitoring and have no bearing on opportunities or benefits.

 

Dunipace Brown will monitor all elements of:

(i) recruitment and selection process (applicants and existing staff and partners;

 

(ii) promotion and transfer;

 

(iii) training (all training opportunities not restricted to equality and diversity training);

 

(iv) terms and conditions of employment;

 

(v) take up of benefits (work life balance policies eg flexible working requests)

 

(vi) grievance and disciplinary procedures;

 

(vii) resignations, redundancies, and dismissals.

 

(d) Review

Dunipace Brown will review the operation of this policy not less than twice a year (or more regularly if we identify any non-compliance or problem concerning equality and diversity issues with clients or personnel). We will take remedial action if we discover non-Formatted: Font: 14 pt, Complex ScriptFont: 14 ptFormatted: Font: 14 pt, Complex ScriptFont: 14 pt

compliance under this policy or barriers to equal opportunities. When reviewing the policy we will consider the outcome of monitoring and review actions under our communications and training plans.

 

5. Glossary of terms used in this Guidance

"Diversity' is a broader term than "equality‟ or "equal opportunities‟ or "equality of opportunity‟. Diversity policies encompass all individuals by recognising that all of us have different characteristics which make us unique and that organisations benefit from taking these into account when offering services or employing people. In contrast to equal opportunity, diversity is not about treating people equally but rather it is about recognising and responding to different needs, experiences and aspirations and acting accordingly. Diversity is complimentary to equality of opportunity.

 

"Equal opportunities monitoring' is the collection and analysis of information about a person that it used in order to check that a policy or procedure does not have an adverse impact on a particular group of people or amounts to unlawful discrimination. Information can be collected on race, disability, gender, age, and in some circumstances sexual orientation and religion or belief.

 

"Unlawful discrimination‟ includes "direct discrimination‟, "indirect discrimination‟, "victimisation‟ and "harassment‟.

 

"Direct discrimination' occurs where a person is treated less favourably on the grounds of race, racial group, colour, ethnic or national origins, sex, gender reassignment, pregnancy, marital status, disability or sexual orientation or religion or belief. Under the Equality Act 2010 these are called "protected characteristics‟.

 

"Indirect discrimination' occurs where an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice would put a substantially higher proportion of the members of one sex, or people of a particular racial group or religion or belief, sexual orientation or with a disability at a particular disadvantage compared with other persons unless that provision, criterion or practice is objectively justified by a legitimate aim and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary.

 

"Victimisation' occurs where a person is treated less favourably because she or he has made a complaint of discrimination. This also applies to individuals who may have assisted or supported the complainant, for example, as a witness or by showing sympathy.

 

"Harassment‟ is unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual.

 

"Positive action' is where you encourage the participation of or access to services for members of under-represented groups. Positive action is not to be confused with positive discrimination.

"Positive discrimination‟ is where you make a decision in someone‟s favour because of his or her particular characteristic, eg race, gender or disability. Positive discrimination is usually unlawful, unless it falls within one of the very limited exceptions contained in the anti-discrimination legislation in relation to disability or as a genuine occupation requirement.

 

Positive action is often used as a way to minimise the effects and outcomes of past discrimination on groups. In some limited circumstances, employers or training bodies are allowed to take special measures relating to access to training for particular work, or encouragement to apply for particular posts.

 

For example, where women are under-represented in senior management posts, running special training for women to encourage them to apply for senior posts is an example of positive action and lawful. However, the appointment of a woman to a senior post solely on the basis of her gender would be an example of positive discrimination and would be unlawful.

 

"Genuine occupational requirement' is an express exception to the positive discriminate on a particular ground. However, there are some

very limited circumstances in which it may be lawful to discriminate on grounds such as race, gender, disability, sexual orientation or religion. For example, where being of a particular racial or religious origin is an essential requirement for the job, or for reasons of decency or privacy. For detailed information on exceptions please refer to the appropriate anti-discrimination legislation.

"Protected characteristics' is the collective term for the grounds of discrimination or equality strands given express protections under the Equality Act 2010. They are: age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity. It is good practice to adopt the protected characteristics as a reference for type of diverse backgrounds that you should be considering when developing and implementing a modern and up-to-date Equality and Diversity Policy.

 

Law Society of Scotland Rule B1.15: Diversity
1.15.1

You must not discriminate on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation in your professional dealings with other lawyers, clients, employees or others.

 

1.15.2

Where you act in a managerial capacity or supervise others you must ensure that:

(a) there is no unlawful discrimination in employment including recruitment, training, employment terms, promotion, advancement and termination of employment;

 

(b) those you manage or supervise do not discriminate unlawfully;

 

(c) you and those you manage or supervise, have appropriate awareness and understanding of the issues surrounding equal opportunities, unlawful discrimination, equality and diversity; and

 

(d) there is no unlawful discrimination in the provision of legal services, and that those to whom legal services are provided can access them in a manner most appropriate to their needs.

 

Diversity Policy 9th July 2012