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Going forwards to a diverse, inclusive culture.

Elaine MacGlone, Equality and Diversity Manager for the Law Society of Scotland talked recently about receiving the 2017 Award for Diversity and Inclusion Manager of the Year.

Ms MacGlone said that when setting out the plans for their equality and diversity work in the forthcoming year, she did not realise that it would lead to receiving this award, and she considers herself very privileged to be the recipient.

The Law Society was very pleased to hear that they were recognised for the work they do about the benefits of inclusion, equality and diversion in the legal sector. What have they done to deserve the award? Ms MacGlone says that it has been a lot more than just a few months' effort.

For many years, the Law Society has worked hard to promote equality and diversity within the legal sector. This led them to introduce, in 2015, 10 Equality Standards. This is a set of voluntary standards which have been set out to help members of the Law Society to achieve an inclusive outlook.

The Standards have been grouped together under six headings, namely Leadership, Staff Development, Strategy, Equal Pay, Reporting and Publication, and Accessible Services. These guidance settings are suggestions for companies on the best way to utilise equality standards in their businesses. Although many organisations already have in place the means to adopt the standards, they have been designed to be flexible. This flexibility allows companies to tailor them to individual businesses.

These standards are underpinned by four guides which set out to cover the elimination of the gender pay gap, practical guides to equality and diversity, provision of accessible services, and prevention of bullying and harassment in workplaces. The guides have been set in place to provide practical advice and information not only to members, but to employees, employers, and service providers.

Ms MacGlone stated that in addition to supporting companies striving for equality in the workplace, the Law Society wants to support the individual members in the profession. This is particularly relevant with employees returning to work after maternity leave, adoption leave, or shared parental leave.

In order to help members who are returning to work, the society has introduced a set of guides called 'Parent in the Profession'. The guides cover a variety of practical issues which arise from returning to work, such as handling the renegotiation of a role, and re-igniting confidence. They cover the issue of how to make a positive start in a new career, while combining being a mum or dad.

MacGlone says that the suggestion of the guides came from a colleague in another team who mentioned the experience of returning to work after maternity leave.

The Law Society is working in conjunction with organisations such as the Glass Network. This group was set up by Rennie and Drew McCusker to support LGBT+ employees in the legal sector. Other organisations they work with are Women in Law Scotland, and Scottish Ethnic Minority Lawyers Association (SEMLA).

Earlier this year the Law Society was involved in a campaign run by the Glass Network. This was aptly named 'These are our Principles', with a selection of people including the First Minister, members and solicitors, being invited to participate in short videos to set out some basic legal principles that relate to LGBT+ employees in employment and society. These videos were then easily shared across social media platforms. This was a very effective way to highlight issues.

The campaign was shortlisted for Best Diversity Marketing at the Herald & Genalytics Diversity Awards in October. The campaign has also been shortlisted for the Scottish Diversity Awards.

Ms MacGlone concluded by saying that their efforts would not stop after the awards season, rather in the forthcoming year they would be focusing on equality standards, and how these will benefit the legal profession.

2018 will be the first census in the legal profession for five years, and this will assist with monitoring changes, and understanding the complexity of the profession today. This will help the drive for equality and diversion in the workplace, and create a strategy for the future.


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