21 September 2019

BSB report shows diversity at the Bar heading slowly in the right direction but that further progress is needed

Last month we published our annual report on Diversity at the Bar. We have a statutory responsibility to monitor and promote equality and diversity both as an employer and as the regulator of barristers in England and Wales. The report shows that progress was made in 2016 with regard to both diversity and to the disclosure rates of barristers providing data. 

While the diversity of barristers is improving, the report shows there is some way to go before the Bar is fully representative of the public it serves especially at the level of QC.

Disclosure rates amongst barristers have improved markedly since we started collecting diversity data. The lowest rate of disclosure, which was between 3 and 5 per cent in some categories in 2012, is now 30.8 per cent (for declaring caring responsibilities for others). The disclosure rate for gender is now only just below 100 per cent and it is 91.8 per cent for ethnicity.

We have also published our Equality and Diversity Strategy for 2017-19. We have developed equality objectives and a corresponding action plan to address the slow rate of progress of diversity at the Bar, and to improve access to justice.

The strategy includes an objective to address unlawful discrimination against members of the profession and consumers, and a commitment from us to take all the action available, in all areas of our work.