PROBLEMS IN SOCIETY
Over the years, diversity has always been questioned not only in the workplace but in society as a whole. Gender, caste, creed, colour and religion has always been a topic of discussion, whether it’s at work, a coffee shop or on public transport. It’s really funny how people judge others based on what part or region of the country they’re from and not by their skillset or ambitions. A great example is India which is often known for its vast cultures and ethnicity, where people from minority or ‘scheduled’ castes are often faced with criticism based on their colour, caste, religion, gender, locality and language. A scheduled caste is the official name given in India to those of the lower caste, who are considered ‘untouchable’.
Working in a male-dominated profession, female lawyers are often scrutinized and mocked due to the perception of being either too weak or simple-minded. Usually, performance of an employee should validate their position at a workplace, not heir gender nor sexual orientation. However, the UK is amongst the top-rated countries in the EU that is considered to be the worst in controlling gender inequality. Woman are often subjected to their gender and sexuality in the workplace. However, undermining them based on these petty reasons has rather made them stronger and provided them with the motivation to showcase their talents through hard work and dedication.
The Gender Equality Index (2017) shows that UK has shown moderate advancement towards gender equality. Vêra Jourová – former European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality – stated that women are often discriminated based on their choice of career and access to job opportunities, whereas men are pressurised to focus more on their jobs and earn more money.
Over the past decade, the legal profession has evolved and changed in regard to ethics and beliefs. The change that’s necessary for society is happening but at a very slow rate. Recent reports by the Law Society show:
- 49% of the solicitors are made up of women; and
- A 13% increase of solicitors and 24% increase of barristers from the Black and Ethnic Minority (BAME) community in the UK.
As the legal system in the UK is often subject to change based on the progress of society, there are certain underlining process of thoughts yet be changed. Despite the increased number women, people from the LGBT+ community and BAME individuals, diversity still remains as a challenge.
There have been various initiatives and programmes run by law firms that are designed to raise awareness of diversity and equality amongst co-workers. Regardless of their race and cultural backgrounds, law firms today are more inclined about driving a change to provide an equitable workplace. But this requires work and time. The new generation now seems to be more excited to create and build a multicultural environment amongst their associates, to take responsibility and plan different methods to improvise the system. They’re more excited to promote diversity and inclusion, and this hasn’t been overlooked.
IMPACT ON CLIENTS
A firm’s approach to diversity and inclusion has a reflect on that firm’s values. Clients and customers are the bread and butter of every law firm. How would they feel if they were disregarded based on their race or ethnicity? A key instrument to a successful law firm is the “people”, technically known as “employees”. If the employees were treated based on partiality by their own superiors, the boat will not stay afloat for long, before it eventually sinks. It is important for any workplace to have unity and equality amongst its own peers. Discrimination amongst co-workers based on their own ethnicity, race, religion or language shows that despite entering the 21st century, the mindset and attitude remains the same.
If such disparity was found amongst the workforce, it would soon affect the clients who are to witness the imbalance and unwillingness of co-workers, ultimately leading the fall of the concerned law firms. A workplace consisting of people from different cultural background and ethnicity would provide the place with a variety of aspirations and knowledge. It also makes the client more comfortable knowing that they’re speaking to a lawyer who understands the importance of diversity.