<div>STEPHEN WARD<br><b>THE LAW SOCIETY</b><br><br>TODAY, the Law Society launches its Diversity and Inclusion Charter the legal profession's flagship diversity initiative. At the official launch event tonight, which is being sponsored by Linklaters and Eversheds, around 40 leading law firms will be announced as founding signatories, but all law firms regardless of their size are encouraged to join them in making this commitment.<br><br>The Charter is a public commitment by legal service providers to develop and implement best practice on equality, diversity and inclusion as employers, as providers of legal services, as purchasers of goods and services and in their wider roles in society. Signatories also commit to the annual publication of the diversity profile of their UK staff and to collaborative action with other charter signatories.<br><br>The business case for diversity and inclusion has gained considerable traction in recent years. It is accepted that law firms which reflect the communities they serve are better placed to respond to their needs.<br><br>Another fundamental element of the business case is the increasing number of corporate clients keen to ensure their own commitments to diversity and inclusion are shared by their professional advisers. It is standard practice for large purchasers of legal services to request information on the diversity policies and practices of their potential legal suppliers.<br><br><b>CLEAR COMMITMENT<br></b>Through the commitment to reporting, charter signatories will be able to understand in which specific areas of diversity they need to seek the help of specialist organisations. the Law Society will also be able to identify quickly those initiatives that have the greatest impact and to spread that learning.<br><br>Individual reporting on diversity statistics also enables firms to measure their own performance, assess the impact of specific schemes and policies and chart year-on-year progress, undertaken as a part of a wider collective exercise the benefits of reporting are significantly enhanced.<br><br>Such information cannot just benefit those providing legal services but also those procuring them, which is why the Charter is accompanied by a unique protocol for the procurement of legal services. Through the protocol, purchasers also commit to promoting diversity and inclusion by undertaking to collect and consider standard information in a model questionnaire when appointing their legal advisers. These "protocol partners" directly benefit by encouraging their suppliers to reflect their own commitments to diversity and inclusion, ultimately leading to better levels of service.<br><br>If we are to have an accessible and representative profession able to compete for the very best talent and respond to the needs of clients in a global marketplace, we must work together to identify and remove the obstacles that may not be visible from any one perspective.<br><br>The Charter is available at</div>