Diversity & Inclusion
Lincoln’s Inn is committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion, both within the barristers’ profession and as an employer. We are currently conducting a review of our Equality and Diversity Policy and aim to publish an updated policy and action plan by the end of this year.
Our EDI work is overseen by the EDI Committee. The committee has responsibility for developing, overseeing and monitoring implementation of EDI strategy for the Inn, developing and supporting EDI initiatives directed at widening access to the profession, strengthening diversity and inclusion at the Inn, and supporting members from diverse backgrounds in their professional careers and development.
The committee was established in 2021, replacing the EDI Steering Group. In due course, the committee will publish its action plan for the year ahead.
Equality & Diversity Policy
Lincoln’s Inn expects all its officers, members and staff in exercising their functions for the Inn to comply with this Equality & Diversity policy, and the Inn’s obligations under the Equality Act. In adopting this policy Lincoln’s Inn does not intend to confer or limit any legal rights or expectations, whether contractual or otherwise. This policy may be withdrawn or altered at any time.
Discrimination on grounds of the protected characteristics is rendered unlawful in certain defined situations by the Equality Act 2010.
The provisions which are particularly relevant to an Inn of Court are those which apply to it:
as a body which confers qualifications
as an employer
as a provider of facilities and services to its members, the Bar generally and to members of the public
as a provider of vocational training
Anybody acting on behalf of the Inn must not unlawfully discriminate against or harass other people including current and former employees, job applicants, members, suppliers and visitors. This applies within the Inn, outside the Inn (when dealing with members, suppliers or other work-related contacts, and on work-related trips or events including social events.
The following forms of discrimination are prohibited under this policy and are unlawful:
(a) Direct discrimination: treating someone less favourably because of a protected characteristic. For example, rejecting a job applicant because of their religious views or because they might be gay.
(b) Indirect discrimination: a provision, criterion or practice that applies to everyone but adversely affects people with a particular protected characteristic more than others, and is not justified. For example, requiring a job to be done full-time rather than part-time would adversely affect women because they generally have greater childcare commitments than men. Such a requirement would be discriminatory unless it can be justified.
(c) Harassment: this includes sexual harassment and other unwanted conduct related to a protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating someone’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them.
(d) Victimisation: retaliation against someone who has complained or has supported someone else’s complaint about discrimination or harassment.
(e) Disability discrimination: this includes direct and indirect discrimination, any unjustified less favourable treatment because of the effects of a disability, and failure to make reasonable adjustments to alleviate disadvantages caused by a disability.
The Inns are committed to providing an environment in which all individuals are treated with dignity and respect. Harassment in any form will not be tolerated by the Inns.
The Inns of Court Anti-Harassment Policy applies to all members of the Inns of Court at all levels (including students) and extends to activities beyond the Inns’ premises as well as electronic communications.
Individuals who feel that they have been subject to harassment or inappropriate conduct in connection with the activities of the Inn (or witnesses to the harassment of others) should make initial contact with the Under Treasurer of the Inn, or another designated Inn employee.
We value our inclusivity and both educational and social engagement with our members. If things are not going well, we need to know.
We are currently redrafting our complaints policy and procedure. In the meantime, if you wish to raise a formal complaint please contact the Under Treasurer, Anne Sharp, or the Assistant Under Treasurer, Murray Campbell, or the Director of Membership & Education, Faye Appleton.
If you are experiencing harassment outside of the Inn’s activities, we would recommend you consider using the Bar Council’s confidential reporting tool called Talk to Spot. This tool allows you to record and (if required) report inappropriate behaviour, bullying, harassment and discrimination.
Diversity & Inclusion Forum
In 2018, the Inn held its first Women’s Forum. Throughout 2018 and 2019, a number of Forum events were held. These events were largely focused around the 100-year anniversary of the opening up of the legal professions to women. In 2020, we took the decision to expand this Forum, with the aim of covering a wider range of diversity and inclusion issues.
The Bar Standards Board publishes their equality and diversity objectives and strategy on their website.
The Bar Council offers lots of support and advice for barristers and chambers on equality, diversity, and inclusion. Full information is available on their website but in particular we would like to highlight their helplines and bullying and harassment support. The Bar Council offers confidential helplines devoted to equality and diversity issues (020 7611 1426) and supporting pupils (020 7611 1415). As well as these helplines, the Bar Council have a confidential reporting tool called Talk to Spot. This is an online tool for confidentially reporting instances of bullying, harassment and discrimination, to give the profession a secure, constructive process for dealing with such behaviour. The Spot tool allows you to record and (if required) report inappropriate behaviour, bullying, harassment and discrimination.
Diversity in the Profession
There are a number of special interest networks across the Bar. You can find details of a number of them on the Bar Council’s website.
We are keen to work with and support special interest networks at the Bar. Should you want to discuss how we can work with your network please contact Beth Williams.