Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination in the Legal Sector

It was recently stated by the Law Society that about every one out of six solicitors has been bullied in a way in the workplace. The main exploratory findings of the society’s 2012 omnibus report suggest that about 17% of solicitors have been harassed at work. The survey reveals a whole tale of cases of workplace bullying, harassment and discrimination. Highest percentage has been reported by those working in government (25%) and those working in commerce and industry (23%). Complains in the private practice are said to be around 16%. More than 1,600 individuals have participated in the survey and about 6% of those people have said that they have experience sexual harassment in the workplace. Another 10% have reported that they have been discriminated. This 10% represents 168 people who have experienced any kind of discrimination white at work. According to the survey, about 64% or nearly two thirds have attributed this to their sex, about 20% attributed it to their ethnic origin, and 19% to their social class and status. Other issues mentioned as reasons for discrimination included things such as religion, pregnancy, any kind of disability and sexual orientation.

The report also surveyed people based on the level of stress in the workplace. Of those 1,600 people, only 5% have reported that they do not experience any stress at work or feel that the environment is hostile and negative. As much as 65% have reported that that do experience either moderate or severe levels of stress. Solicitors who experience extreme stress at work place have been reported to account for only 4%. Last but not least, the survey also revealed that over the past twelve months only about 2% of solicitors have taken time off because of stress.

All the findings from the survey have been presented to the Society’s membership. The report along with the analysis made will serve as a basis for the Society’s membership board to develop a strategy and promote the solicitors’ wellbeing in the workplace. Kate Walmsley, the Society’s corporate responsibility specialist, has written a paper to the members of the board expressing a concern on the preliminary findings of the survey. She stated that the tales of harassment, bullying and also discrimination are too high and actions need to be taken. Ms. Walmsley said that even though rates were not as high as in other sectors, steps have to be made in order to improve the working environment of the solicitors. A strategy needs to be made and to address the question of issues such as discrimination, abuse and sexual harassment. This, as stated by the CSR specialist, is of tremendous importance not only to the people working in the legal sector, but also for the need to reduce any financial and reputational costs both to the profession and to the Law Society as a whole.

In conclusion, don`t foreget to download our Anti-bullying and Harassment Policy. Protect you and your colleagues!