Equality & diversity
Fountain Court is committed to Equality and Diversity. We regard it as essential to our standing as a leading commercial set of chambers that we should seek to excel in this, as in the rest of our business.
We recognise the obligation not to discriminate against clients, members, pupils or staff on grounds of gender, gender re-assignment, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), sexual orientation, age, disability, marriage and civil partnership and religion or belief is a fundamental and legal obligation imposed on us by legislation and the Bar Code of Conduct.
It is only right that we should make sure we are behaving in a fair and non-discriminatory way. It also makes good business sense that we should recruit and retain the very best staff, pupils, and tenants, based on merit, from the widest possible pool of talent.
We have a comprehensive Equality and 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. In particular, we use published, objective, selection criteria in recruiting staff, pupils and tenants and we ensure that all those involved in recruitment have Equality and Diversity training; we participate in programs designed to encourage applicants from under-represented groups, such as the Social Mobility Programme; we provide 6 months’ rent free parental leave for the primary carer of a newborn or newly adopted baby, as well as the option of an extended career-break; we support flexible working patterns; we monitor fairness in allocation of work opportunities as between practising barristers; and we treat breach of our policies on discrimination and harassment as a serious matter. 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 Action Plan, which sets out time-tabled steps towards meeting those goals.
We recognise that women, members of ethnic minorities and those with disabilities are under-represented at the commercial bar and within Fountain Court, in comparison to the population at large. We encourage applications from these groups.
Chambers will make reasonable adjustments for clients, staff, pupils, tenants, candidates for employment, pupillage and tenancy, and others including temporary visitors. Requests for such adjustments should be made to our Head of Administration, Julie Parker.
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. Responses, which are entirely voluntary, were collated, analysed and anonymised for reporting, in December 2017.
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 failed to 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 10 (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.
Applications for tenancy, pupillage or employees are assessed, without discrimination, and any offers made are based solely on merit. We recognise that women, members of ethnic monitories and those with disabilities are under-represented at the commercial bar and within Fountain Court, in comparison to the population at large. We encourage applications from these groups.
- 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.