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Looking at the LSB's report into diversity in the legal profession
Hot on the heels of the Cranfield report which revealed that the UK is on track to achieve 25% female representation in the boardroom comes a timely warning that diversity is not simply a matter of statistics. In 2011 the Legal Services Board (LSB) issued guidance in respect of diversity data collection and transparency with the aim of using this as a springboard to increasing diversity within the legal profession.
The LSB’s update issued in March 2015 has shown that whilst some progress has been made, the “use of this data has not had the level of impact hoped for on the many issues identified by the LSB’s research” and therefore more has to be done to increase diversity within the profession. On the plus side the data collection exercise has enhanced the visibility not only of ethnic and gender diversity but also that based on socio-economic backgrounds. However, the report identified that more has to be done both in the way in which data is collected, the burden which data collection places on the profession and the way in which the data can be used to benchmark improvement.
Whilst statistics can be a good way of highlighting and benchmarking issues, the true test of success is the way in which individual organisations respond to the challenge and start to look at diversity as an intrinsic part of the business methodology. As the report suggests, “ensuring firms and chambers are accountable for their decisions on recruitment, promotion and retention, and the cultural values impacting on these decisions, will not be achieved by collecting aggregated data alone.”