I. Stephanie Boyce is asking the law sector to embrace the theme for Black History Month: ‘Time for Change: Action, Not Words’ in her last year as president of the Law Society.
I. Stephanie Boyce announced she would be leaving the Law Society of England and Wales at the same time Black History Month is encouraging people to improve the future by taking real, lasting action to make the world a better place for Black people.
I. Stephanie Boyce said: “Black people often experience racism and discrimination. Then they are expected to fix it. This must change.”
The Law Society is taking action for its members by speaking to Black solicitors about their experiences of working in the profession.
In 2020, it published its Race for Inclusion report, which shed new light on this issue and indicated how it could build a more inclusive profession.
I. Stephanie Boyce added: “Our research discovered the challenges and obstacles Black, Asian, and minority ethnic solicitors face due to their ethnicity.
“Adverse discrimination was reported by 13% of Black, Asian, and minority ethnic solicitors, and 16% reported bullying.
“A third of Black African and Caribbean solicitors say they have experienced some form of discrimination or bullying in the workplace – the highest figure reported by any ethnic group.
“A lack of progression in larger firms was also an issue. 34% of partners in single partner firms are from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.
“As part of our report, we recommended that firms have open, honest conversations about race and what needs to change in their organisation, implement blind and contextualised recruitment, set targets for senior leaders, and instil a data-driven approach to diversity and inclusion.”
There have been signs of improvement in the two years since the Law Society’s research. Its annual statistics report 2021 found that representation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic solicitors continued to grow, reaching 18% and Black, Asian and minority ethnic solicitors working in private practice increased by 6%.
I. Stephanie Boyce added: “However, more work needs to be done in increasing representation of those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic, and low socio-economic backgrounds. Only 1% of solicitors working in the City are Black.
“To help firms develop and deliver a strategic approach to D&I, the Law Society recently launched our diversity and inclusion framework.
“Our D&I framework helps workplaces drive change by supplying a proactive three-step action plan that will help our members develop and deliver a strategy that creates lasting change.
“Improving diversity and inclusion in the legal profession has always been one of my primary ambitions as president.
“I hope the work I have done during my time as president has gone some way to improving how the profession recruits and retains its talent. Personal characteristics or an individual’s socio-economic background should not determine how far people can go.
“I very much look forward to celebrating Black History Month with my colleagues in the profession.”