Diversity & Inclusion
This firm is an equal opportunities employer and is committed to ensuring our workplaces are free from unlawful discrimination related to protected characteristics. These are race, sex, marriage and civil partnership, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity and paternity, sexual orientation, religion and belief, age and disability.
The Firm’s Approach to Equality & Diversity
We will not treat anyone less favourably for a reason relating to their part time or fixed term status unless this can be objectively justified. The firm will also take all reasonably practical steps to ensure that disabled people (including staff and clients) are able to participate in it’s business activities on an equal basis with people who are not disabled.
All of our personnel are aware of the firm’s policy in relation to discrimination, equality and diversity. The policy deals with all professional dealings by personnel with clients, other Solicitors, Barristers and third parties, and so covers :-
- accepting instructions from clients;
- using experts and counsel;
- the provision of services to clients;
- dealings with those representing others;
- interaction with everyone involved in or incidental to the provision of services by the firm;
- dealing with third parties, suppliers and contractors.
The policy also extends to the recruitment, training and promotion of people within the practice. In connection with both aspects, it is the case that all personnel must comply not only with the professional requirements of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, but also with the law of England and Wales.
In the Bedford office disabled access is available through the main door on Harpur Street. There are two interview rooms available for clients with mobility problems.
We will endeavour to meet all client’s requirements and would take any reasonable and practicable steps possible to provide them with access to legal services taking into account their disability.
Also home visits are available to those clients who require them.
In the Ampthill office, access to the office is more difficult, but home visits are always available to those clients who require them.
Sharman Law LLP is therefore committed to avoiding discrimination in its dealings with clients, Partners, employees and all other third parties that have dealings with the firm. It is committed to promoting diversity in its professional activities.
Appointment of Nominated Officers
Equality & Diversity Partner: Philip Elliott
Forms of discrimination
The following areas of discrimination are collectively referred to as ‘the above grounds’ in the rest of this policy.
- race or racial group (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins);
- sex (including marital status, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity and paternity);
- sexual orientation (including civil partnership/marital status);
- religion or belief;
- physical or mental impairment
The types of action that are against the firm’s policy are :-
- Direct discrimination, where a person is, without lawful cause, less favourably treated on any of the above grounds.
- Discrimination by association – ie where a person is without lawful excuse, less favourably treated because they associate with people with those characteristics (above)
- Discrimination by perception – ie where someone is thought to have one of the characteristics referred to above, even if they do not, and are treated less favourably as a result.
- Indirect discrimination, where a requirement or condition that cannot be justified is applied equally to all groups but has a disproportionately adverse effect on members of one particular group by reason of any of the above grounds.
- Victimisation, where someone is treated less favourably than others because he or she has taken action against the firm for unlawful discrimination on one or more of the above.
- Harassment, which occurs when unwanted conduct on one of the above grounds has the purpose or effect of violating another person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person.
Everyone at the firm is expected and required to treat all others equally and with the same attention, courtesy and respect regardless of the above grounds.
In addition, the firm will ensure that nobody with whom it has dealings will suffer any substantial disadvantage through any disability that they might have. The firm is committed to making reasonable adjustments for those with a disability in relation to job opportunities, promotion and training within the firm and the provision of services to clients and not to pass on those costs to the disabled individual.
Recruitment, training, promotion and partnership opportunities
The firm is committed to providing equal opportunities in employment. This means that all job applicants, employees and Partners will receive equal treatment in relation to the above grounds. It makes good business sense for the firm to ensure that its most important resource – its staff – is used in a fair and effective way.
The firm will also comply with the law and the professional requirements in relation to its Partners and prospective Partners. Thus, where appropriate, the existing Partners will not discriminate on any of the above grounds in the arrangements they make for the purpose of determining to whom they should offer a membership of Sharman Law LLP, the terms on which such membership offered, or by refusing to offer, or deliberately not offering membership to anyone. Nor shall the Partners discriminate in any way in relation to the provision of benefits to any Partner, or in relation to any matter relating to the expulsion of any Partner or any detriment to be suffered by him/her. This policy will be made available to any candidate to be interviewed upon request and the fact that the firm has the policy will be indicated at the point when interviews are set up.
The firm will take steps to ensure that applications are attracted from people without regard to the above grounds and will ensure that there are equal opportunities in all stages of the recruitment process.
The firm will arrange training if and when appropriate. This policy forms part of the firm’s induction training programme.
For its part, the management of the firm has considered all aspects of its operations to ensure compliance with the professional rules. Any development of the firm’s strategic and business planning, or changes in this manual, will similarly be examined in order to ensure that no inadvertent breach of the firm’s policy occurs.
The firm is generally free to decide whether to accept instructions from any particular client, but any refusal to act must not be based on any of the above grounds and care must also be taken to avoid there being any perception that they apply. The file review forms will include reference to diversity and equality.
Barristers and other experts
Barristers and experts should be instructed on the basis of their skills, experience and ability. The firm will not discriminate in the instruction of Barristers and/or experts on any of the above grounds.
A client’s request for a named Barrister or expert should be complied with, subject to the firm’s duty to discuss with the client the suitability of the Barrister or expert and to advise appropriately. The firm has a duty to discuss with the client any instruction by the client as to choice of Barrister or expert that is based on any of the above grounds. The firm will endeavour to persuade the client to modify instructions that appear to be given on discriminatory grounds. Should the client refuse to modify such instructions, the firm will cease to act unless the preference can be justified under the permitted statutory exceptions referred to as ‘genuine occupational requirements’ or ‘genuine occupational qualifications’.
Although it is unlawful to discriminate in favour of certain groups on the grounds of race or sex, positive action to enable greater representation of under-represented groups is permitted by law and the appropriateness of such action will be kept under review.
In 2017 the partners and staff of the firm were again pleased to participate in the equality and diversity survey produced by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the statistics in relation to this are shown below.