The Bar Standard Board (BSB) last night agreed an anti-racist statement which aims to reduce race inequality at the Bar of England and Wales.
The statement, which has been published today on the BSB website, was developed in collaboration with barristers and BSB members of the regulator’s Race Equality Taskforce. It has been produced in line with the objectives in the BSB’s Equality and Diversity Strategy for 2020-22 where race equality is a key focus.
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, outlining how it intends to lead by example by setting, and meeting, high standards in its own approach.
The second part of the statement sets four anti-racist actions for barristers’ chambers and BSB-regulated entities to implement. These actions have been framed in terms of the requirements set by the Equality Rules of the BSB Handbook and suggest how practitioners, chambers and entities can embed an anti-racist approach in their work to fulfil those requirements. The four actions are to:
- complete a race equality audit to identify the barriers to race equality within a practice;
- design and implement positive action measures, where the audit shows that there is an underrepresentation of, or adverse impact on, people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds;
- undertake comprehensive anti-racist training for all barristers and staff; and
- produce and publish an anti-racist statement for members of chambers and the public.
The published statement provides more information and advice for barristers’ practices about these actions and how to complete them. From April 2021, the BSB will review the profession’s response to today’s statement by asking what steps have been taken to meet the published actions. This will take into account the resource challenges experienced by some chambers as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the BSB expects all chambers to have regard to the four actions set out above in reviewing their own plans.
BSB Director-General, Mark Neale, said:
“We recognise that 2020 has been an unprecedentedly challenging year for many parts of the Bar but consider the issue of race equality at the Bar to be an urgent priority for everyone. We also know that the Bar shares that commitment. That’s why we have decided to publish this anti-racist statement now. If all barristers’ practices commit to completing, and fully embracing, the actions that we have set out for them today, we believe this would represent a significant step towards greater racial equality within the profession.”
The BSB has a statutory regulatory objective within the Legal Services Act 2007 to encourage an independent, strong, diverse and effective legal profession as well as duties under the Equality Act 2010.
You can read the BSB’s full anti-racist statement here on its website.
Notes to editors
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