Equal opportunities and diversity policy

General Statement

FSP is committed to the principles of equality and diversity and complying with its legal requirements. This means that all job applicants and employees will receive equal treatment regardless of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin (collectively “race”), sex, pregnancy, exercise of the right to take maternity leave, marital status, civil partner status, gender reassignment, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age, disability, or political belief. It is good business sense for FSP’s personnel to be diverse and drawn from all sections of society and to ensure that its’ most important resource, its employees, are treated in a fair and effective way.

FSP is committed to preventing harassment, as defined below, by colleagues within the workplace and to taking reasonable steps to prevent its employees being subjected to harassment by third parties. Employees are encouraged to bring any such harassment to FSP’s attention without delay.


It is unlawful to discriminate against individuals either directly or indirectly in respect of their race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin (collectively “race”), sex, pregnancy, exercise of the right to take maternity leave, marital status, civil partner status, gender reassignment, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or because they are disabled. Each of these is a “Protected Characteristic.”

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published Codes of Practice on Employment, Equal Pay and Services, Public Functions and Associations. These Codes supplement the Equality Act and FSP has due regard to them. FSP complies with the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s Standards & Regulations and recognises that running our business in a way that encourages equality of opportunity, respect for diversity and inclusion is one of the 7 Principles set out in the Code. This policy takes into account FSP’s legal obligations and matters of good employment practice.

Forms of Discrimination

The following are the kinds of discrimination that are all against FSP’s policy.

a) Direct Discrimination is where a person is less favourably treated because of their actual or perceived or someone else’s (with whom they are associated) Protected Characteristics and, in the case of age only, such treatment is not justified. Examples are if someone is refused promotion on the grounds that he or she is Black or white, disabled, a woman or a man, Christian or Muslim, heterosexual or homosexual.

b) Indirect discrimination is where a provision, criterion or practice puts someone with a particular Protected Characteristic at a disadvantage and is not a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. An example is of a job description, which would make it difficult for women with young children to satisfy the criteria because of an unnecessary requirement with regard to hours of work. Other examples are restricting recruitment to areas where there are few ethnic minorities, or a requirement which is non-essential to the job description which may exclude a disabled person (such as the requirement for a driving licence for a job which is mainly office-based).

c) Victimisation is where someone is subjected to a detriment because he or she has raised an allegation of discrimination, taken action against FSP, or has assisted another to take action against FSP not to be discriminated against or has participated in a conversation with a colleague to obtain pay information when they think they have been discriminated against where such actions were taken in good faith.

d) Harassment is:

  • unwanted conduct related to a Protected Characteristic which has the purpose or effect of violating an employee’s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for an employee;
  • unwanted sexual conduct which has the purpose or effect described above
  • less favourable treatment due to the submission or rejection of unwanted sexual conduct or conduct related to gender reassignment.

Examples include:

  • unwelcome sexual attention including touching and invading personal space;
  • subjecting someone to insults or ridicule because of their sexual orientation;
  • “outing” or threatening to “out” someone as gay or lesbian (whatever their orientation);
  • suggesting that sexual favours may in some way further someone’s career or refusing sexual favours may damage it;
  • lewd, suggestive, or over-familiar behaviour;
  • display of pornographic or sexually suggestive pictures or written material;
  • display of material advocating against religious beliefs or sexual lifestyles;
  • “making fun” of someone who wears a hearing aid;
  • racial name calling;
  • sending “joke” cards which are at the expense of someone’s age; and
  • making sexist remarks about an employee or another individual.

Please note an employee could be harassed even if s/he is not the direct recipient of the behaviour.

Harassment can also occur when an employee is repeatedly subjected to such treatment by a client or other third party.

Please refer to the Anti-Harassment and Bullying Policy for further details as to how to address any harassment.

e) Disability Discrimination is slightly different to other forms of discrimination as the law attempts to level the uneven playing field caused by disabilities. It is unlawful to treat an employee less favourably because of their disability or because of something arising as a consequence of their disability. It is also unlawful to indirectly discriminate against a disabled employee. There is also a positive duty to make reasonable adjustments to prevent practices, criteria or provisions putting disabled employees at a disadvantage.

If an employee is or becomes disabled while working for FSP, s/he is encouraged to discuss their condition with their Team Leader or the Managing Partner so that FSP is best placed to help and support them. If they consider that FSP could help them by making adjustments to their working hours, workplace or working conditions they are encouraged to make these suggestions to their Team Leader or the Managing Partner. In appropriate circumstances FSP will need to consult with the employee’s medical advisers and the employee in question as to how to best accommodate their needs and those of FSP.

Adjustments that can sometimes be considered by FSP may include:

  • Making adjustments to premises
  • Providing information in accessible formats
  • Allocating some of a disabled person’s duties to another person (d) Altering a disabled person’s hours of working or training.
  • Allowing a disabled person to be absent for rehabilitation, assessment, or treatment
  • Acquiring or modifying equipment
  • Providing supervision or other support

Recruitment and Promotion

FSP will take steps to ensure that applications are attracted from all people regardless of their Protected Characteristics. FSP will also ensure that there are equal opportunities in all stages of the recruitment process. Employees responsible for recruitment receive training in equality and diversity and guidance will be available to all employees.

Promotion within FSP is based solely on merit and without regard to Protected Characteristics.

Terms and Conditions

All of FSP’s employees are treated fairly and non-discriminatorily. Terms and conditions of employment, including pay and benefits, are offered by reference to the role fulfilled by the employee. No regard is paid to Protected Characteristics when decisions regarding terms and conditions of employment are made, except where the law and/or matters of good practice permit and/or encourage FSP to provide additional assistance to employees on any of these grounds.

Fixed term employees will usually enjoy the same terms and conditions of employment and access to training, promotion, and permanent employment opportunities as permanent staff, except in circumstances where dissimilar treatment is justifiable.

Part-time employees will enjoy the same terms and conditions applied on a pro rata basis as full-time staff. Part-time staff will have access to training as required by their role. They will have the same access to promotion as full-time staff.

Clients and Service Providers

FSP is generally free to decide whether to accept instructions from any particular client. However, no client will be refused our assistance on the grounds of his/her Protected Characteristics.

FSP will assist clients and potential clients as required under the Equality Act 2010 and take any further lawful positive action to assist clients and potential clients where such action is appropriate.

Equally, FSP expects clients to treat members of FSP with respect and not to harass them or treat them differently on the grounds of their Protected Characteristics.

Barristers will be instructed on the basis of their experience, skills, and cost. FSP will not choose to or decline to instruct any barrister on the basis of his/her Protected Characteristics. If a client requests that a barrister be chosen on any of the above grounds, the fee earner with conduct of the case or the Relationship Manager (as appropriate) will explain that this is not possible (unless a lawful exemption/positive action applies) and will ensure that non-discriminatory instructions are obtained from the client.

All suppliers, agents, contractors and other third parties engaged by FSP are chosen on merit and suitability for the relevant task. Such decisions are untarnished by discrimination on any of the above grounds.

FSP provides a copy of this policy to providers to whom we have outsourced services central to the delivery of FSP’s legal activities.


All employees are trained on this policy and how to ensure their dealings with each other, clients and third parties are consistent with FSP’s equality and diversity obligations.

Disciplining Scenarios and Termination of Employment

Disciplinary action will always be considered and, if appropriate, undertaken in a non-discriminatory fashion based solely on the alleged misconduct, poor performance or incapacity as applicable.

In the event that an employee’s employment has to be terminated by FSP, any such termination will be non-discriminatory.

If FSP has to consider redundancies, it will ensure that any selection criteria are fair and objective and not directly or indirectly discriminatory.


This Policy will be monitored by FSP to judge its effectiveness. FSP will keep under regular review the salaries paid to all employees of FSP to ensure that there is no inadvertent discrimination in this respect. If changes are required, FSP will implement them.

For several years FSP has asked training contract applicants and current partners and employees to complete a monitoring form. The process applied complies with the SRA’s requirement to report and publish diversity data.


FSP will treat seriously and sensitively any complaint by an employee who believes he/she has been discriminated against or harassed due to any Protected Characteristics. If an employee has such a complaint, he/she is advised to raise it under FSP’s grievance procedure.

Anyone raising an allegation of discrimination in good faith will not be victimised or subject to any form of detriment. False allegations, however, or those made in bad faith will be treated as a disciplinary matter under the Disciplinary Policy and may result in disciplinary action up to summary dismissal.

Breach of this policy

All partners and employees must comply with this policy. FSP will treat breaches of this policy as gross misconduct. Any such breaches are likely to result in action under the disciplinary procedure up to and including summary dismissal being taken. Employees should be aware that claims may be made against them personally as well as against FSP for breach of this policy. Compensation may be payable in such circumstances by the employee in question as well as by FSP.

Responsibility for this policy and review

The Equality and Diversity Officer has responsibility for this policy and will review it at least annually.


A copy of the policy is available on FSP’s Intranet and website. Updates to this policy are notified to all partners and employees via email.

Reference is made to the policy in FSP’s Terms of Business which is sent out to clients.

As indicated above, a copy of this policy is provided to service providers to whom we have outsourced services such as digital dictation and cleaning.