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Equality & Diversity Policy

A. Lance Mason’s Commitment

(1) General Commitment
Lance Mason is committed to eliminating unlawful discrimination, harassment and bullying, and to promoting equality and diversity within our policies, practices and procedures. We are also committed to promoting equality and diversity in the practice. This applies to our professional dealings with clients, staff and partners, other solicitors and any third parties. We shall treat everyone appropriately and with the same attention, courtesy and respect regardless of:
(a)        Age;
(b)        Disability;
(c)        Gender reassignment;
(d)        Race;
(e)        Nationality, colour, ethnic or national origins;
(f)         Religion;
(g)        Gender;
(h)        Sexual orientation;
(I)         Marital status/civil partnership;
(j)         Aids/HIV positive status;
(k)        Pregnancy, maternity, paternity or caring responsibility;
(l)         Work pattern;
(m)       Membership or non-membership of a trade union; or
(n)        Any other reason which is irrelevant to the employee’s ability to do the job.

The practice will take all reasonable steps to ensure that employees do not unlawfully discriminate under the terms of this policy and any legislation in force.

(2) Regulation and Legislation
In implementing its Equality and Diversity Policy, Lance Mason will comply with the Standards and Regulations set out by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) together with any current and any future anti-discrimination legislation and associated codes of practice including and not limited to the Equality Act 2010, and any relevant amendments or re-enactments of such legislation and any relevant amendment to such codes or further codes of practice. 

B. Lance Mason As An Employer

(1) As An Employer

Lance Mason will treat all members of Lance Mason and job applicants equally and fairly and not discriminate unlawfully against them. This will, for example, include arrangements for recruitment and selection, terms and conditions of employment, access to training opportunities, access to promotion and transfers, grievance and disciplinary processes, demotions, selection for redundancies, dress code, references, bonus schemes, work allocation and any other employment related matters.

(2) Recruitment and Selection

Lance Mason recognises the benefits of having a diverse workforce and will take steps to ensure that:

      • it endeavours to recruit from the widest pool of qualified candidates possible;
      • employment opportunities are open and accessible to all based on their individual qualities and personal merits;
      • selection criteria and processes do not discriminate on any of the prohibited grounds referred to above; and,
      • all recruitment agencies acting for Lance Mason are aware of its requirement not to discriminate and to act accordingly.

(3) Conditions of Service

Lance Mason will create a working environment which is free from discrimination, victimisation, harassment and which respects the diverse backgrounds and beliefs of members of Lance Mason.

Terms and conditions of service for members of Lance Mason will comply with anti-discrimination legislation. The provision of benefits such as working hours, maternity and other leave arrangements, performance appraisal systems, dress code, bonus schemes and any other conditions of employment will not discriminate against any member of Lance Mason on any of the prohibited grounds referred to above. Where appropriate and necessary, Lance Mason will endeavour to provide appropriate facilities and conditions of service which consider the specific needs of members of Lance Mason.

(4) Promotion and Career Development

Promotion within Lance Mason will be made without reference to any of the prohibited grounds referred to above and will be based solely on merit. The selection criteria and processes for recruitment and promotion will be kept under review to ensure that there is no unjustifiably discriminatory impact on any particular group. Whilst positive action measures may, where lawful, be taken in accordance with relevant anti-discrimination legislation to encourage members of under-represented groups to apply for promotion opportunities, recruitment or promotion to all jobs will be based solely on merit. All employees will have equal access to training and other career development opportunities appropriate to their experience and abilities. 

C. Barristers and Other Third Parties

(1) Barristers 

Barristers should only be instructed based on their skills, experience and ability. Lance Mason will not, on any of the prohibited grounds referred to above, avoid briefing a barrister and will not request barristers’ clerks to do so. Clients’ requests for a named barrister should be complied with, subject to Lance Mason’s duty to discuss with the client the suitability of the barrister and to advise appropriately. Where a client’s instructions as to the choice of barrister are based on any of the grounds detailed in paragraph (1) above, Lance Mason will encourage the client to modify their instructions.  Should the client refuse to modify such instructions, Lance Mason will cease to act.

(2) Suppliers

All lists, if any, of approved suppliers and databases of contractors, agents and other third parties who, or which, are regarded as suitable to be instructed by those within Lance Mason have been or will be compiled only on the basis of the ability of those persons or organisations to undertake work of a particular type and do not or will not contain discriminatory exclusion, restriction or preference.

D. Clients

Lance Mason is generally free to decide whether to accept instructions from any client, but any refusal to act will not be based upon any of the prohibited grounds referred to above. Lance Mason will take steps to meet the different needs of particular clients arising from its obligations under anti-discrimination legislation.

E. Promoting Equality and Diversity

Lance Mason is committed to promoting equality and diversity in Lance Mason as well as in those areas in which it has influence. Members of Lance Mason will be informed of this policy and will be provided with equality and diversity training appropriate to their needs and responsibilities. All those who act on Lance Mason’s behalf will be informed of this equality and diversity policy and will be expected to pay due regard to it when conducting business on Lance Mason’s behalf. In all its dealings, including those with suppliers, contractors and recruitment agencies, Lance Mason will seek to promote the principles of equality and diversity.

F. Implementing the Policy

(1) Responsibility

Ultimate responsibility for implementing the policy rests with the partners of Lance Mason. Lance Mason has appointed the Practice Manager to be responsible for the operation of the policy. All members of Lance Mason are expected to pay due regard to the provisions of this policy and are responsible for ensuring compliance with it when undertaking their jobs or representing Lance Mason. Any breach of this policy by members of Lance Mason will result in disciplinary action, including termination of services where appropriate.

(2) Complaints of Discrimination

Lance Mason will treat seriously and will take action where appropriate concerning all complaints of breaches of this policy made by members of Lance Mason, clients, barristers or other third parties. All complaints will be investigated in accordance with Lance Mason’s grievance, disciplinary and/or complaints procedures and the complainant will be informed of the outcome.  A copy of Lance Mason’s complaints policy is available to clients on request.

(3) Monitoring and Review

This policy will be monitored and reviewed in a manner proportionate to the size and nature of Lance Mason on a regular basis to measure its progress and judge its effectiveness. Lance Mason will, as appropriate (but without requiring any member of Lance Mason to provide information should they not wish to do so), monitor:

(a)        The gender and ethnic composition of members of Lance Mason as well as the number of disabled staff, at different levels of Lance Mason.
The ethnicity, gender and disability of all applicants, short-listed applicants and successful applicants for jobs and training contracts.
(c)        The ethnicity, gender and disability of all applicants for promotion (including to partnership) and training opportunities and details of whether they were successful.
(d)        Where it is possible to do so, and where doing so will not cause offence or discomfort to those whom it is intended to protect, the sexual orientation and religion or belief of all members of Lance Mason will be monitored so as to ensure that they are not being discriminated against in terms of the opportunities or benefits available to them.
(e)        The number and outcome of complaints of discrimination made by members of Lance Mason, barristers, clients and other third parties.
(f)        The disciplinary action (if any) taken against members of Lance Mason by race, gender and disability.
(g)        This information will be used to review the progress and impact of the equality and diversity policy. Any changes required will be made and implemented.

G. Application and Status Of This Policy
This policy is not part of any contract of employment or partnership agreement and may be changed at any time.

Notwithstanding the above, it is a requirement of Lance Mason that all members of Lance Mason comply with this policy and with the provisions of the SRA’s Standards and Regulations.

H. Publication Of This Policy 

      A copy of this policy will be available to every member of Lance Mason via the Intranet. A copy of the policy will be included on Lance Mason’s website.