Long way to go – SRA unveils “unacceptable” ethnicity profile

Philip: We strongly encourage others to publish data

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has a “long way to go” to improve the diversity of its senior management, it said as it published its ethnicity pay gap for the first time.

The voluntary move is part of the regulator’s efforts to encourage large law firms to start reporting their ethnicity pay gap alongside the requirement to publish their gender pay gap.

The ethnicity pay gap shows the difference between the mean or median hourly pay received by White staff and staff from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic background.

Unlike gender pay where organisations with more than 250 employees must publish their data, there is no obligation to publish ethnicity pay gap data.

Around nine out of 10 SRA staff disclosed their ethnicity, with 66% of the workforce White and 26% from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

The 2021 report showed that the mean pay gap was 21.5%, and the median 15%. The SRA said the gap was driven by a higher proportion of White staff in more senior positions (88% of the upper pay quartile).

Chief executive Paul Philip said: “Although we don’t have to do this [publish the data], we think it is the right thing to do. Some law firms are already publishing this data and we would strongly encourage others to follow suit.

“Our data shows that we have a long way to go. Although we have good ethnic diversity in our workforce, we don’t when it comes to diversity in senior positions. That isn’t acceptable.

“We need to make sure we are recruiting and promoting talent from all backgrounds. We are committed to improving this and will be working hard to do all we can to address this problem.”

He said the SRA would be developing an action plan and start a programme of work to better understand the reasons behind the low representation of staff from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic background in senior positions, and what measures it could take to address the problem.

The mean gender pay gap in the Law Society Group – covering both the SRA and the Law Society – was 11.5%, and the median gap 11.3%, lower than the UK average.

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