All firms accredited to perform the reserved legal service of probate are required to collect, report and publish diversity data about their employees.
The diversity of current and future customers and the resources to serve these markets provide new opportunities for firms. This report provides an important assessment to assist practices to develop the mix of their resources through peer comparisons and market positioning information.
The analysis of responses from ICAEW probate regulated firms has been compared with data from the Financial Reporting Council, the ICAEW annual return, data reported by the SRA and information from the Office for National Statistics.
In March 2015, we collated the data received to date from applicant probate firms. This was a relatively small sample and is consistent with similar data collected by the SRA across their practices. The data provides a useful comparison for your firm to use.
The Legal Services Act 2007 specifies a regulatory objective to 'encourage a strong, independent, diverse and effective legal profession' within firms that supply reserved legal services such as probate.
The collecting, reporting and publishing of this diversity data is a requirement under paragraph 2.7 of the Probate Regulations. In the initial period of accreditation its implementation was voluntary. From 2017, it is compulsory for all firms that supply probate services.
If your firm has not yet submitted its data, the Probate Committee has extended the deadline to 31 October 2017. However, after this date, the committee may consider imposing a regulatory penalty for firms that haven’t submitted this data.
The Legal Services Board (LSB) requires all its authorised regulators including ICAEW to support this objective. We are required to collect and publish data on the diversity of staff within the firms we regulate.
As well as a regulatory purpose, there are many benefits to collecting this data. The results provide a benchmark. Your firm will be able to:
Has your firm got the right people in place to reflect the current and future client profile, to develop new ideas and take advantage of these ideas? This diversity survey provides a benchmarking tool to understand the profile of current employees and future recruitment requirements. It will stimulate discussion about how to attract a diverse range of future talent to make the most of new opportunities such as a new pool of clients and to develop new ideas.
Your firm is required to collect, report and publish data on the diversity of all your employers (not just those in the probate team) every two years.
The last deadline was 30 April 2017 and the next survey will be in 2019. We will send details about the next survey in December 2018. Your firm is welcome to use the questionnaire template (below) outside these timescales – however, please do not submit this data to ICAEW.
The process of collecting the data can be managed in-house or through a third party.
We recommend you provide information to your staff about how the data will be collected and published to reassure them that their anonymity will be preserved.
If you are managing the process in-house, we have developed a Probate diversity questionnaire template. Please ensure you add the appropriate data protection statement for your firm.
There are companies including Riliance that may be able to support you with collecting the data from your employees. Please contact them directly to discuss your firm’s requirements. Riliance is providing this service free of charge until 30 June 2017 (their ongoing charges are relatively small).
If you choose to use a third party supplier, please ensure you use the same questions that are contained in the Probate diversity questionnaire template.
All permanent and temporary employees should ideally complete the questionnaire, although it is optional to do so. In the Probate diversity questionnaire template we have included a ‘prefer not to say’ option for every question. The questionnaire should be sent to all staff and not just the probate team.
Please also share the questionnaire with employees who are not currently in the workplace eg, those on maternity leave, long-term sick leave (assuming they are in contact with the office and wish to be contacted).
Your firm’s data should be published on your firm’s website in a format of your choice. If your firm does not have a website, you must publish the data on some documentation eg as a paragraph in a letter of engagement or in advertising materials. The paragraph should provide a high level summary of the results.
Please be sensitive to the possibility that, if the data is collected from relatively small data-sets, individual staff members may be identifiable. The Equalities and Human Rights Commission states it is important that you do not breach workers’ or applicants’ confidentiality, or reveal anything which might enable someone to work out information about another person which was provided in confidence.
If the anonymity of individual members of staff may be compromised, you should adapt the information you publish accordingly, for example, by only publishing the less sensitive data.