Bar Council response to BSB report 'Women at the Bar'

11 July 2016

BAR COUNCIL RESPONSE TO BSB REPORT: WOMEN AT THE BAR

The Bar's representative body, the Bar Council, has responded to today's 'Women at the Bar' report published by the profession's regulator, the Bar Standards Board (BSB).

Chairman of the Bar, Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC said:"The Bar Standards Board's report provides some useful insights into the experiences of women at the Bar, over a period of change and challenge, and builds on two important Bar Council reports ' Snapshot: The experience of self-employed women at the Bar' and 'Momentum Measures: Creating a diverse profession' which highlighted concerns raised by women in the profession. Both the Bar Council, and now the BSB, are looking closely at the challenges women face in their careers. This demonstrates the seriousness with which the Bar Council, the representative body, and the Bar's independent regulator take the issue of equality in the profession.

"Some of the experiences documented by the BSB are historic, but there is no room for complacency. This profession, like others, continues to face challenges around harassment and discrimination. It is a positive sign, however, that women now feel able to come forward with their experiences, and I believe that we are moving in the right direction. Anyone approaching the Bar Council and its E&D Helpline will receive the help and support they need. Many of the challenges facing women, in what is a highly competitive profession, remain and we welcome the BSB's intention to use the results of their survey to develop recommendations before year is out.

"The number of initiatives providing support for women at the Bar is growing. Over the past few years, the Bar Council has implemented a number of initiatives aimed at improving equal opportunities for self-employed and employed practitioners. We have focused on the challenges faced by women at different stages in their careers and designed a range of practical measures to tackle such issues as sexual harassment, work allocation, managing career breaks, parental leave and flexible working. Many of these initiatives also address challenges faced by BAME and LGBT+ members of the Bar. The results are being continuously monitored and will help us to determine what further steps might be needed to ensure that there is genuine equality of opportunity for women at the Bar.

"Although the position is changing for the better, women still account for a very small number of members of the senior judiciary, and they make up only 13% of all QCs. The judiciary and the legal profession from which it is drawn should reflect the communities they seek to serve, and that is why the Bar Council is committed to doing all it can to support women at the Bar at all stages in their professional careers at the Bar. We need to aim for a profession of all, and for all."

ENDS

Notes to Editors 

  1. Further information on Bar Council equality initiatives is available here. 

  1. Further information is available from the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 and Press@BarCouncil.org.uk.

  2. The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes: 

  • The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services

  • Fair access to justice for all

  • The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and

  • The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent Bar Standards Board