The Bar Standards Board has introduced a reverse mentoring programme in a drive to improve racial diversity, stating the ‘onus of change needs to be on the white majority and senior ranks of the profession’.
The pilot scheme will see senior barristers from white backgrounds mentored by bar school students and pupil barristers from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. Pairs will have regular one-to-one meetings to discuss race equality issues affecting the profession.
Suggested topics of discussion include the first-time the mentor and mentee noticed a lack of inclusion at the bar; what it is like in chambers; and instances of racial discrimination that they have noticed.
The first pairing will be between Elisha Lindsay, a black female bar student and race equality activist, and Paul Stanley QC of Essex Court Chambers.
Head of equality and access to justice at the BSB - and chair of the regulator’s race equality taskforce - Amit Popat, said: ‘This is the first race equality reverse mentoring scheme launched at the bar. It presents a new and innovative approach to promoting inclusion, which we believe will benefit both established and aspiring barristers, while making a meaningful cultural change.
‘To all BAME bar students and senior barristers from white backgrounds who wish to practically support an anti-racist agenda, I would strongly encourage you to sign up.’
Describing the programme on its website, the BSB said: ‘When compared to traditional mentoring schemes, reverse mentoring is more likely to ensure mutual benefit to both the mentor and the mentee, and to pair people who might otherwise not come together. The scheme reflects our belief that, to achieve race equality in our profession, the onus of change needs to be on the White majority and senior ranks of the profession.'