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Making a start: creating a difference for diversity and inclusion

28 October, 2019

The Licensed Conveyancer profession, and the firms regulated by the CLC, are open and inclusive. It’s a non-graduate profession, so supports social mobility really well compared to other parts of the legal profession.

It’s majority female, which might seem like a cause of celebration. But sadly, those women don’t make it to management and leadership roles in the numbers that they should. Men are far more likely to make it to the top.

The proportion of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people working in the sector looks good, too. Broadly in line with the wider population. But they are much less likely to hold a professional qualification and, again, are much less likely than their white colleagues to make it to senior roles in the firms that we regulate.

The CLC has a regulatory objective to promote diversity and inclusion across the community it regulates. But, more significantly, there is a well-recognised business case for diversity. Diverse teams have been shown to make better decisions and build better businesses. They are less likely to fall into groupthink and are more likely to respond quickly and effectively to the needs of diverse consumers.

Many organisations are looking beyond the business case to the moral case. Quite simply, it is right to ensure a business is attracting candidates and appointing and promoting staff from the widest possible range of backgrounds.

But that is a lot easier to say than to do. It can be incredibly difficult to spot what it is, in the way you are running your business, which might be inhibiting applications from diverse groups of candidates or acting as a barrier to the promotion of women or BAME colleagues.

I know from work I’ve done in the past, that a great way to start is by talking to people from groups that do seem to be disadvantaged to find out from them what they see as the barriers.

I want to start that conversation in the CLC world now. I will be inviting women and BAME people working in CLC-regulated firms to discuss the issues with me at events in December and January. I hope those discussions will help point the way to further action we can take to support firms in making a difference.

I will also be asking managers of CLC-regulated entities for examples they have of initiatives that have made a difference in their firms.

I do not expect that there are any silver bullets out there. If there were, we’d already be seeing the impact. But from work I’ve done in the past with other parts of the legal sector, I expect that we will identify a range of small changes that can address particular parts of the problem.

It is vital that we make a start.

Look out for an invitation to an event near you.  I hope you will want to work with the CLC and your colleagues to make sure the profession is fit for the future.

And, if you are aware of something that is working where you are, or want us to be aware of something you believe is creating problems, do get in contact with me.

Stephen Ward

Director of Strategy and External Relations