The BSB in collaboration with its Disability Taskforce will be holding their first event on 15 September 2022. It will be hosted by 7BR chambers, who have recently invested in state-of-the-art disabled access to transform the accessibility of their Grade II Listed building. The ‘Sesame Steps’ lift, which is concealed while not in use, preserving the eighteenth-century building’s architectural integrity, was installed by Sesame Access Systems – an innovative specialist lift company. The Disability Taskforce event will provide an opportunity to hear from disabled barristers about their experiences navigating their careers at the Bar; the barriers that they have faced and what factors have helped them to progress. It will also be an opportunity to learn about disability inclusion best practice across the profession. Further information on this event and how to register is available here.
To mark Disability Pride Month 2022, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) is also today launching a new web page for its Disability Taskforce. The Taskforce, which was formed in July 2021 works to make the Bar a more inclusive profession for disabled people. The BSB is committed to promoting equality and diversity and access to justice at the Bar, with disability being a key area of focus, a commitment which has been reaffirmed through the BSB’s membership of the Business Disability Forum.
The Taskforce advises the BSB on:
- how regulatory tools can be used to influence improved disability equality outcomes at the Bar;
- reviewing and improving routes into the Bar, making it a more accessible and inclusive profession;
- improving the culture at the Bar to strengthen the retention of disabled barristers; and
- ensuring that the BSB as an employer is setting an example for best practice in disability inclusion.
Disability status is under reported, with only 53.7 per cent of the Bar providing this monitoring information to the BSB. 3.1 per cent of the Bar; 4.7 per cent of pupils; 3.3 per cent of non-QC barristers; and 1.4 per cent of QCs had declared a disability as of December 2019. Across law firms – only 3 per cent of lawyers declared they had a disability in 2019 using the Equality Act (2010) definition, this compares to an estimated 19% of the working age population. This under reporting reflects the need to foster a more inclusive environment where disabled barristers feel comfortable sharing this information and are confident that they will be supported.
The BSB believes that the Bar must seek to reflect the society which it serves and to harness diverse talent effectively. A Bar which comprises diverse lived experiences and perspectives strengthens the quality of service provided. Diverse teams bring better problem solving, more creativity and innovation and ultimately are better placed to serve all our customers. Creating a more inclusive culture will help to ensure that people from the widest possible talent pool are able to join the profession and progress successfully.