15 September 2019

BSB agrees actions to tackle unfair treatment of women at the Bar

Last month we announced how we intend to make further progress in eliminating the discrimination, harassment and other unfair treatment of female barristers.

The actions announced include:

  • working with others, including the Bar Council, the Institute of Barristers' Clerks (IBC) and the Legal Practice Management Association (LPMA), to address cultural issues at the Bar which may be contributing to various types of unfair treatment for women, and to consider future training needs;
  • reviewing how our approach to supervision and enforcement can take account of equality and diversity best practice;
  • measuring the overall effectiveness of the Equality Rules in the BSB Handbook and considering whether these need to be improved or updated; and
  • reviewing the role of Equality and Diversity Officers within chambers.

This follows publication in 2016 of our  Women at the Bar report which found that women could face unfair treatment across a number of areas which they  were reluctant to report.  It also found instances of poor implementation and non-compliance with equality policies, and low awareness of the Equality Rules.

Since the Women at the Bar report was first published, we have been seeking practical solutions to improve the retention and progress of women at the Bar and we have undertaken further research. This included a series of workshops with over 50 attendees including barristers, clerks, chambers' directors, circuit leaders, Specialist Bar Associations and Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) providers. We published a summary of the 2017 research findings in May.