Anti-Racist Strategy: Foreword

"We regulate a great and important profession on behalf of the public.  It matters very much that the Bar at all levels reflects the society we serve. It matters just as much the BSB itself is diverse and inclusive. It matters because the BSB must itself set an example.  It matters because our regulation must be informed by people of all backgrounds and points of view. And it matters because everyone at the BSB must feel included in our work and able to contribute. Our Anti-racist Strategy will help us to promote and deliver that inclusion.  We want to be held to account for turning strategy into reality."

Mark Neale, BSB Director General

BSB Director General Mark Neale

Anti-Racist Strategy: Introduction

1. The Bar Standards Board (BSB) recognises, as Baroness McGregor-Smith stated in her Race in the Workplace Review, ‘there is discrimination and bias at every stage of an individual’s career, and even before it begins. From networks to recruitment and then in the workplace, it is there.’

2. In November 2020, the BSB published an anti-racist statement, which aims to reduce race inequality at the Bar of England and Wales. The statement was developed in collaboration with barristers and members of the BSB’s Race Equality Taskforce. The first part of the anti-racist statement explains what steps the BSB is taking to evaluate and strengthen its own commitment to anti-racism.

3. This strategy sets out the BSB’s internal commitment to anti-racism, outlining how we intend to lead by example by setting, and meeting, high standards in our own approach.

Anti-Racist Strategy: Background

4.The BSB seeks to provide an inclusive workplace for all. We believe racism needs expressly to be addressed and the first step in this process is to have a strategy for doing so. The Race Equality Task force supports BSB’s external work on race equity. The People Team support BSB’s internal work on race equity. The BSB started by surveying its workforce in 2020, analysing the data we hold about our people by ethnicity and holding focus groups. The Race in the Workplace 2020 report found that there were distinct discrepancies in the experiences of BSB people from minority ethnic backgrounds. For example, 80% did not feel that their ethnic background was recognised and valued by colleagues and managers. This compares to 45% white respondents. Using the evidence that emerged, an Anti-Racist Working Group (ARWG) was formed to recommend a strategy to the Senior Leadership Team and the BSB Board.

5. This strategy is informed by the ARWG’s further work in this area. The ARWG has reviewed available research from other organisations and sectors, spoken to similar organisations about their approach to anti-racism and undertaken its own discussions about what it means to be anti-racist. In late 2023, the ARWG held an organisation-wide consultation on the draft strategy, comments from which have been incorporated into the final strategy. The ARWG then sought external consultancy to ensure that the strategy was ambitious and deliverable.

Anti-Racist Strategy: Our approach

6.BSB is an outcome focussed and principles-based regulator. We have decided to develop this strategy using the same approach. This strategy will run from 2024-2027 (three years). The BSB will agree annual action plans to sit alongside this strategy.

7.In line with the best practice, we will monitor and evaluate progress of this strategy with input from the ARWG. The progress will be communicated across the organisation at the conclusion of each annual action plan. If needed the strategy will be amended based on annual evaluation results.

Anti-Racist Strategy: Outcomes

8. As an organisation striving to become anti-racist our:

  • Vision is to be a place of work where there is equality, belonging and wellbeing for all our people. We want everyone to feel seen, appreciated, included, and bring their whole selves to work.
  • Mission statement is to create an inclusive culture at the BSB that supports a diverse and engaged workforce, where racism is actively addressed, and any incidents of racism are challenged and managed effectively.

9. Over time, in line with the mission statement, the BSB is working to achieve the following outcomes:

  1. INCLUSIVE CULTURE CREATED: The BSB welcomes, respects, and ensures everyone, particularly ethnically and culturally diverse communities, has a sense of belonging to the organisation. This culture should inform all programmes of work at the BSB from how we manage, develop, and motivate people to how we work with our stakeholders.
  2. VISIBLE LEADERSHIP ON ANTI-RACISM AND EQUALITY, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION (EDI): The BSB consistently provides visible and vocal leadership on anti-racism and EDI and cites examples of good practice as an anti-racist organisation.
  3. DIVERSE WORKFORCE: The BSB workforce fully represents the diversity of the national and local populations and is confident on anti-racism and EDI.
  4. INCIDENTS OF RACISM MANAGED EFFECTIVELY: The BSB manages internal incidents of racism effectively with effective support systems, transparent reporting and disciplinary procedures and have built trust, so people are confident to report incidents.
  5. EFFECTIVE GOVERNANCE ON ANTI-RACISM AND EDI: The BSB has good practice governance structures and processes in place which deliver effectively on anti-racism and EDI.
  6. DIVERSITY AT MANAGEMENT AND BOARD LEVEL: The diversity of Management and Board members, and the talent pathways better reflect the proportion of people in working age population.

Anti-Racist Strategy: Principles

10. In developing an anti-racist strategy, the BSB has followed the six principles recommended by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)1 for creating a racially inclusive workplace. Our strategy is structured around these principles, which are:

  • Clarify the organisation’s stance and values;
  • Co-create a systemic approach for practical action;
  • Commit to sustained action through visible leadership and a willingness to change;
  • Critically appraise our people management approach from end to end;
  • Connect our people by creating safe spaces, systems, and times to talk, share experiences and learn from each other; and
  • Communicate our messages consistently and ensure that communication is two-way.

Principle 1: The BSB’s stance and values

11. We recognise that anti-racism is essential to achieving the BSB’s values of fairness and respect, independence and integrity, and excellence and efficiency. In fact, it contributes actively to each of the values.

12. The focus of this strategy is anti-racism, we believe it will have a positive impact on the culture at the BSB for all our people.

13. We have set out the outcomes we would like to achieve. We will identify actions that we propose to take in separate annual action plans to help us achieve these outcomes.

14. In addition, we will:

  • Publicly state the BSB’s position on anti-racism and a require a firm commitment to anti-racism from all stakeholders, including colleagues, suppliers, partners and service users;
  • Ensure that external messages genuinely match the BSB’s commitment to change: stakeholders should feel progress is being made in the right direction;
Provide practical examples 
  • Provide practical examples of what constitutes racism (including micro inequalities / aggressions) in supporting communications as well as what anti-racism is and involves through ongoing education.

Expected impact: Inclusive Culture Created (outcome 1).

Clearly articulated position from the BSB on anti-racism, which will demonstrate visible leadership on anti-racism and EDI and start to create a more inclusive culture.

Principle 2: Co-creating a systemic approach for practical action

15. A systematic approach is necessary to identify and tackle the causes of race inequality and discrimination. Our approach will be data-driven and co-created with the Anti-racist Working Group and other colleagues across the organisation.

16. In the delivery of this strategy, we will:

  • Focus on the agreed outcomes;
  • Appropriately resource the work that is needed to achieve those outcomes;
  • Base our work on evidence and be driven by data and insight.

Expected impact: Effective Governance on Anti-Racism and EDI (outcome 5).

A strategic approach is taken across the BSB on anti-racism and EDI, showing effective governance in this area to achieve our stated outcomes.

Principle 3: Commit to sustained action through visible leadership and a willingness to change

17. The leadership of the organisation (specifically the Board, the Senior Leadership Team, and the Leadership Group) have a key role to play in promoting anti-racism at the BSB, by virtue of their influence on the culture of the organisation. The BSB’s Anti-Racist Working Group is co-chaired by two members of the Senior Leadership Team, who will act as champions for this work and monitor progress of the Action plan. Board and Leadership teams will take collective responsibility and ownership for its implementation.

18. To ensure this happens, we will:

  • Make progress on diversity and inclusion a permanent item on Board, SLT and Leadership group agendas;
  • Regularly review progress against the strategy, evaluate effectiveness and make changes where necessary;
  • Educate leaders on race, talk openly about race and enable ongoing discussions about race across the organisation;
  • Senior managers and/or Board members will be visible at diversity and inclusion events;
  • Make clear that you do not have to be from a underrepresented ethnic background to champion race inclusion, but as an ally you can listen to the experiences of others and avoid assuming that you know the right answers to problems that are identified;
  • Provide leaders with an understanding of the lived experience of people from different backgrounds; and
  • Consider bringing additional expertise into the organisation where needed.

Expected impact: Visible Leadership on Anti-Racism and Equality Diversity and Inclusion (outcome 2).

We will drive the creation of an inclusive culture, by demonstrating senior management and Board commitment; demonstrate visible leadership on anti-racism and EDI and contribute to effective governance of the same.

Principle 4: Critically appraise our people management approach from end to end

19. As an organisation, we will have a zero-tolerance approach to racism. We aim to build a culture of trust where people who experience racism feel comfortable to come forward and feel they are being listened to. Allegations of racism will be taken seriously, and action will always be taken in response to inappropriate behaviour. We will take specific actions in a number of areas.

20. People management is key to establishing an inclusive and anti-racist culture. Our people team is already engaged in a number of activities to review our policies, promote our values and promote inclusion across the organisation. For the purposes of this strategy, this work must include a particularly anti-racist lens. The review of our people management processes will include: recruitment; onboarding; development and wellbeing; performance management; and exit process. Our action plans will detail specific actions, which will include the following:

  • Ensuring robust data is available and used to inform the implementation of this strategy;
  • Key performance indicators are set and monitored;
  • A focus on building trust with BSB people from minoritised backgrounds;
  • Increased feedback from BSB people from minoritised backgrounds;
  • A review of our people processes; and
  • Inclusion and wellbeing to be a continuing part of our training and development programme.

Expected impact: Inclusive Culture and Diverse Workforce including at Management and Board Level (Outcome 2 and 6).

We expect to see the following impacts:

  • An increasingly inclusive culture at the BSB, with improved engagement/confidence measurements in BSB people from minoritised backgrounds;
  • Progress towards representation targets at all levels;
  • Our people are equipped to have meaningful conversations about race;
  • Our people processes are increasingly free of bias;
  • Feedback loops enable a process of continuous improvement.

Principle 5: Connecting our people

21. We believe it is important for our people from minoritised backgrounds to have safe spaces to talk and to share their experiences. The BSB has an active anti-racist working group, which has actively contributed to the development of this strategy. It will continue to be consulted by the Senior Leadership Team and have a voice in assessing the effectiveness of this strategy (and associated action plans) and/or making changes to it. In addition, the BSB will establish a network for our people from minoritised ethnic backgrounds, for the purposes of discussing their experiences of working at the BSB and raising any concerns about the culture or practices of the BSB. This network shall be consulted when reviewing the implementation of this strategy and its associated action plans.

Expected Impact: Incidents of Racism Managed Effectively (outcome 4).

This will give a voice to those from minoritised ethnic backgrounds and will contribute to an inclusive culture at the BSB, helping to identify and resolve and incidents of racism.

Principle 6: Communications

22. Regular, two-way communication between leaders and BSB people is key to enabling the organisation to listen to, and act on, any issues or concerns. It also enables a culture of taking responsibility for treating people with dignity and respect. In particular, people from minoritised backgrounds need to feel safe to share their experiences with others who may not share their lived experiences.

23. Senior leaders in the organisation will:

  • Communicate regularly and clearly, highlighting willingness to learn, to be challenged and to have conversations that might be difficult at first;
  • Invite communication and feedback, particularly about people’s lived experiences in relation to race;
  • Ensure mechanisms are in place where people can safely and confidently share their views or concerns;
  • Acknowledge previous failings where relevant;
  • Use communications to demonstrate the organisation’s values.

Expected Impact: Effective Governance on Anti-Racism and EDI (5).

This will show visible leadership on anti-racism and EDI, promote an inclusive culture and ensure that incidents of racism are dealt with effectively.

[1]             The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is an association for human resource management professionals. As such, the non-profit registered charity is incorporated with the Royal Charter and is listed as an awarding body and learning provider of professional qualification which is officially recognized by the government of United Kingdom's Ofqual, CCEA and Qualification Wales. CIPD was founded in 1913 and its purpose is to champion better work and working lives. People’s experiences of work differ. Not everyone can access good work. And we recognise the need, within our own community, to create a more inclusive people profession by eliminating barriers to entry and progression. More about CIPD can be read on their website.