CLA News / CLA’s Diversity & Inclusion Policy – reviewed and updated
The CLA Council are pleased to share the latest review of this important policy that underlines the Association’s commitment to the broadest representation of peoples across the Commonwealth legal fraternity in all the work of the CLA.
The Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) is committed to promoting diversity, equality, respect and inclusion consistent with the principles of justice, integrity, equity and the pursuit of excellence upon which the legal profession is founded.
Programmes designed to improve diversity and inclusion have a positive effect on individual members encouraging their full participation and eliminating bias and discrimination.
At CLA we embrace and encourage members’ differences. The CLA is mindful that many of our members recognise the value of diversity and have taken steps to improve diversity within their own organisations, Bar Associations and Law Societies and to implement diversity and inclusion measures. Other members may be only beginning to explore ways to move towards a more inclusive legal profession.
This Policy is intended to encourage and achieve change within the CLA and more broadly within the legal profession throughout the Commonwealth, to support the progression and retention of all under-represented lawyers and in particular to address the significant pay gap and underrepresentation of women in the superior courts.
This Policy supports diversity in a broader sense and seeks inclusion and equality for the following characteristics which include: (i) gender ( (ii) race and ethnicity (ii) religion (iv) sexual orientation (v) age (vi) gender identity (vii) disability (viii) socioeconomic status; (ix) pregnancy and (x) status as a carer. These are known as the ‘protected characteristics’.
The intention is to create a fair and just profession for the benefit of members, their clients, colleagues, and the wider justice system.
Diversity– is acknowledging understanding, accepting, valuing and celebrating differences amongst all people paying particular regard to the protected characteristics. Diversity also exists between individuals in the roles they perform.
Inclusivity– is the practise or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those having physical or mental disabilities or belonging to other minority groups.
This policy applies to all CLA institutions, including Council, Executive Committee, Office Bearers and members in terms of their inter-action with each other and how they interact as CLA members or bodies with external persons or organisations. (This Policy does not apply to CLA recruitment or employment practice which are covered by the extensive equality provisions of the law of England and Wales).
The objectives of the Policy are to:
- Play an important role in the progression of persons with a protected characteristic in the law, the judiciary and the wider community;
- Redress the underrepresentation of lawyers with a protected characteristic and other minority groups in the senior levels of the profession and the judiciary where appropriate;
- Acknowledge that diverse groups bring a greater variety of experience and enhance decision making;
- Promote the provision of a diverse range of role models in the legal profession generally;
- Reflect community expectations of fairness in all aspects of the administration of the law; and
- Enhance the profession’s credibility by making it more representative of the composition of the community which it serves.
The CLA will:
- Develop a broad set of principles consistent with this Policy promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in the legal profession throughout the Commonwealth;
- Support the development of fora for the advancement of the needs of lawyers with protected characteristics (starting in the first place with fora for women and young lawyers).
- Undertake any Constitutional or other appointments to CLA Ex Co, Council, Regional Hubs and working groups conscious of the need for diversity of members;
- Require diversity of representation in all Conference sessions and public events absent exceptional circumstances;
- Promote the use of unconscious bias tools and programs that reveal persistent discriminatory biases;
- Develop codes and practices that address sexual and other forms of unlawful harassment and discrimination noting such conduct will not be tolerated within the CLA or the legal profession.
- Report to the CLA Council annually on progress to implement the policy and on the development of opportunities of inclusivity within the Association
Members Expected to Comply with This policy
Details of the Association’s grievance and disciplinary policies and procedures can be found in the Association’s code of conduct. This includes with whom a member should raise a grievance. All members must comply with this equality and diversity policy.
Any member found to have exhibited any inappropriate conduct or behaviour against others in the course of their CLA membership may be subject to disciplinary action under the code of conduct.
All CLA members have a responsibility to treat others with dignity and respect at all times. All members are expected to exhibit conduct that reflects inclusion during work, at work functions on or off the work site, and at all other CLA sponsored and participative events. All CLA staff and Council members will be encouraged to attend and complete diversity awareness training to enhance their knowledge to fulfill this responsibility.
An alleged failure by the CLA Council, Executive Committee or Office Bearers to comply with this Policy should be raised with the Secretary General in the first place or should it involve the Secretariat with any Executive Committee member. Such complaints can be raised in a confidential manner in the first place.
Agreement to follow this policy
It is expected that this diversity and inclusion policy is supported by the membership of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association. It must be followed by the CLA Secretariat, Council, Executive Committee and Office Bearers.
The Diversity and Inclusion Policy is supported by various other policies, including:
- Code of Conduct
- Sexual Harassment Policy