Equality & diversity
We have a comprehensive Equality Diversity Handbook, which sets out the policies we have adopted for ensuring compliance with our legal and regulatory obligations and the Attorney General’s Equality and Diversity Expectations Statement.
We also have an Equality and Diversity Strategy, which sets out our goals in respect of equality and diversity and how we aim to achieve them, and a rolling annual Action Plan, which sets out time-tabled steps towards meeting those goals.
We have formed an Equality and Diversity Committee comprising members at all levels of seniority, an experienced clerk and our Head of Administration, which is responsible for promoting equality, diversity and wellbeing within chambers as regards both members and employees.
Our diversity data, which we are required to publish in accordance with the requirements of the Bar Standards Board, can be found below.
Parental leave, flexible working and wellbeing
At Fountain Court, we promote healthy work-life balance and an inclusive, family-friendly atmosphere. That commitment is reflected in a generous parental leave and flexible working policy – for further details, see our Equality and Diversity Handbook. We understand the challenges of balancing work and family life and seek to support our members and staff in achieving that balance. Members of Fountain Court successfully combine practice with other commitments, including caring responsibilities and public service. We are particularly proud to have been one of the first commercial sets of chambers to draw up and adopt a properly comprehensive parental leave policy which has since been shared with other sets of chambers looking to develop their own rules. We also subscribe to “My Family Care” to ensure that those members with familial and other caring responsibilities have additional support in times of need.
More generally, we place a high value on the wellbeing of all members, pupils and staff. All have access to comprehensive health insurance, including support for mental health enhanced by the availability of counselling through our external Employee Assistance Programme.
Chambers also has a mentoring scheme to provide support for junior members in their early years of practice, and is introducing a more extensive mentoring scheme within Chambers more widely. Sometimes, the role of a barrister can be extremely demanding. At the heart of our approach to wellbeing is the objective that all members, though self-employed, should feel supported by chambers – by its clerks and other employees, fellow members and through a broad culture of mutual support. Regular social gatherings and centrally organised chambers activities such as Pilates and art classes for members, pupils and staff contribute to a happier and healthier workforce.
Rule rC110.3.q-t of the Code of Conduct contained in the BSB Handbook requires chambers to publish a summary of its diversity data monitoring exercise, carried out every three years.
Questionnaires were sent out to all members, pupils and staff and responses, which are entirely voluntary, were collated, analysed and anonymised for reporting, in December 2017. Chambers is in the course of collecting updated data which will be published by the end of 2020.
The Code of Conduct prohibits the publication of data on sexual orientation and religious belief unless consent is received from each member of the workforce. We did not receive 100% consent, and therefore no data is published in this report on those characteristics. However, we can confirm that there is a diversity of religious beliefs and a diversity of sexual orientations within chambers.
Where fewer than ten individuals within a published category (or sub-category) identify through the questionnaire with the same diversity characteristic, in accordance with the Code of Conduct, the anonymised data will not be published, unless all affected individuals consent. Where this has occurred, we have either not published data, or data for certain categories has been amalgamated. Pupils’ data is amalgamated within the Junior Barristers group.
- Female barrister numbers have increased overall, with at least 15% female QCs (which represents an 11% increase on our reporting of 2015). 23% of our junior barristers identified as female through the questionnaire.
- 3% of our members declare themselves as disabled. Respondents gave their consent for their minority data to be published.
- 36% of our members attended State schools, and 23% are First Generation University Graduates.
- 11% of our members (including pupils) identify as BAME through the questionnaire.
White: Including White British, White Irish and White Other
BAME: Including Asian/Asian British – Indian, Mixed/multiple ethnicity (White and Black African, White and Chinese). These sub-categories have been amalgamated because the number in each sub-category is fewer than ten.