21 August 2019

The Bar became more diverse during 2017 although further progress is still needed

Last month we published our annual report on Diversity at the Bar. The report shows that progress was made in 2017 with regard to both diversity at the Bar 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. Some of the key findings include:

  • at 62.8 per cent men still outnumber women at 37.0 per cent at the practising Bar. However, the overall percentage of women increased by 0.5 percentage points (pp) during the last year;
  • the percentage of Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) practising barristers has increased by 0.5 pp since December 2016. 12.7 per cent of the practising Bar is now BAME;
  • male QCs still outnumber female QCs, but the percentage of female QCs increased from 13.7 per cent in December 2016 to 14.8 per cent in December 2017;
  • the percentage of BAME QCs has increased by 0.8 pp year on year with 7.2% being BAME and 89.2% being white; and
  • the gender and ethnic diversity of pupil barristers is roughly in line with the population of England and Wales, with 51.7 per cent of pupils being female and 16.1 per cent being BAME.

Disclosure rates amongst barristers have improved markedly since we started collecting diversity data in 2012. The lowest rate of disclosure, which was between 3 and 5 per cent in some categories in 2012, is now 34.1 per cent (for declaring religion or belief). The disclosure rate for gender is the highest at 99.97 per cent and it is 92.5 per cent for ethnicity.

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.

As the renewal period for authorisation to practise approaches, we encourage you to continue to provide us with your diversity data as it informs BSB policies which are aimed at widening access to the profession and promoting diversity and social mobility. The analysed data enables us to identify any trends and is key to meeting our statutory duties under the Equality Act 2010. Your data is completely confidential and is never passed to third parties. Please note that we only ever publish aggregated, anonymised data showing the diversity of the profession as a whole.