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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.

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.

You can download our Equality and Diversity Policy here.

The Purpose of the Policy and Codes

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 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 This policy may be withdrawn or altered at any time.

Statutory Obligations

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.

Harrassment

The news these days is producing a constant stream of stories of inappropriate behaviour and language and sexual harassment. Of particular concern to any responsible institution are the instances which indicate improper ingrained attitudes and abuses of power. At the other end of the scale there may be inadvertently inappropriate behaviour or remarks that can be more easily resolved.

The Inn is carefully considering whether, and if so how, our existing policies and processes should be strengthened.

We encourage our members who have concerns  about anything of this nature to raise them with Anne Sharp, Under Treasurer or with Faye Appleton, Director of Education. They are able to discuss any concerns you may have in complete confidence, as is Sheila Watson, the Inn’s Preacher. They can help you to decide whether any action is appropriate, or just provide a sympathetic hearing and helpful advice on a confidential basis. The decision can be entirely yours.

We value our inclusivity and both educational and social engagement with our members. If things are not going well, we need to know.

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. We took the decision to expand this Forum from this year, with the aim of covering a wider range of diversity and inclusion issues.

The Forum events are overseen by our Diversity & Inclusion Steering Group. Upcoming Forum events can be found on our What’s On page.

Resources

The Bar Standards Board publishes their equality and diversity objectives and strategy on their website.

The Bar Council offers a lot 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 Emma Jeffery.