22 September 2019

Diversity at the Bar improved steadily during 2018 but further progress is needed

1 February 2019

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has today published its annual report on diversity at the Bar. The report shows that progress was made in 2018 with regard to both diversity at the Bar and to the disclosure rates of barristers providing data.

While the diversity of barristers is improving, the report shows that more needs to be done to improve diversity within the profession. Some of the key findings include: 

  • at 62.0 per cent, men still outnumber women at 37.4 per cent at the practising Bar. The percentage of women at the Bar overall increased by 0.4 per cent  during the last year;
  • the percentage of Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) practising barristers has increased by 0.3 per cent compared to December 2017. 13 per cent of the practising Bar is now BAME;
  • male QCs still outnumber female QCs, but the percentage of female QCs increased from 14.8 per cent in December 2017 to 15.8 per cent in December 2018;
  • the percentage of BAME QCs has increased by 0.6 per cent year on year with 7.8% being BAME and 87.9% being white; and
  • the gender and ethnic diversity of pupil barristers is roughly in line with the population of England and Wales, with 50.4 per cent of pupils being female and 16.3 per cent being BAME.

Response rates amongst barristers disclosing their diversity information continue to increase across all categories except for gender which is already at 99.94 per cent.  The response rate for many characteristics is still below 50 per cent, however, so there is still considerable scope for improvement.

The BSB has a statutory responsibility to monitor and promote equality and diversity both as an employer and as the regulator of barristers in England and Wales.

BSB Director of Strategy and Policy Ewen MacLeod said: "The more accessible the Bar is, the better it is able to represent the society it serves. Equality and diversity are priorities for us as a regulator and the data show that there was a steady improvement in gender and ethnic diversity at the Bar during 2018. But, we are aware that more needs to be done. We urge all barristers to complete the diversity data questions when renewing their practising certificates for the year ahead. This will enable us to act on accurate evidence to improve diversity."

You can read the full report here.

ENDS

Notes to editors

About the Bar Standards Board

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