Over the last few years, the Bar Council has rolled out a number of initiatives aimed at improving equal opportunities for members of the Bar.

There has been a special focus on the challenges faced by women as they advance their careers. Practical support has been designed to tackle specific issues faced by women - be it sexual harassment, unfair briefing, managing career breaks, parental leave and flexible working. Many of the initiatives listed below also support other members of the Bar.

They include:

Equality & Diversity Helpline (020 7611 1320)  for employed and self-employed barristers facing discrimination and harassment; and for chambers struggling with equality and  diversity policies, interpreting the Bar Standards Board's rules, looking for advice and guidance on good practice, as well as a Mediation & Arbitration service for when things go wrong.

Bar Council ' parental hub' for parents (men and women) barristers seeking support and guidance on balancing their careers at the Bar with parenting. This includes: 

The Bar Mentoring Service: The Bar Council currently offers three different mentoring schemes. Each scheme is designed to support individuals, women and men, at different point in their career. Scheme 1 supports established barristers seeking judicial appointment or considering applying for Silk. Scheme 2 supports Year 12, 13 and undergraduate students from non-traditional backgrounds, interested in a career at the Bar. Scheme 3 is a more general mentoring scheme on offer for barristers in either employed or self-employed practice, who are looking for support in establishing and building their practice or are looking for general advice from someone with greater experience of life at the Bar.  

The Bar Council also supports Chambers in meeting BSB Handbook Equality & Diversity Rules which shape the working environment. Initiatives include:

Equality & Diversity Officers' Network to support EDOs and those with a 'management' role in chambers, exchanging good practice and how to tackle challenges in retention.

A series of guides aimed at improving the work place for women and other barristers, including a Fair Recruitment guide, Sexual Harassment: Advice for Chambers, Parental Leave Policy and Equality & Diversity Training sessions.

More initiatives are soon to be announced.