Firms will soon be obliged to publish diversity data – perhaps on their website or in reception if they have no website. I find it hard to see how, in a firm which consists of one person only (such as mine), it can be consistent with the Data Protection Act 1998 to force that individual to disclose their age, race, disabilities, ethnic group, schooling and the like (gender and religion are exempt from the publication requirements) and be obliged to publish it.
By analogy, under competition law we anti-trust lawyers (and indeed the Office of Fair Trading) tend to proceed on the principle that sensitive information may not be shared, even anonymously, if there are three or fewer participants. Otherwise, people can guess whose anonymous data is whose if numbers are low (although for some of us a search of our YouTube videos and webinars probably gives much of this information already, including chest size).
Perhaps the Solicitors Regulation Authority should exclude firms with three or fewer people from diversity publication; or maybe one-person firms might be allowed to publish a diversity questionnaire which includes ‘no comment’ on every answer. Those completing the questionnaires are allowed under the rules not to comment on any answer, although the obligation on the one-person firm is to persuade staff – that is, yourself – to answer.
Perhaps I will be obliged by the SRA to apply thumbscrews to myself to extract the data. It sounds a prime case for introducing a de minimis practical exemption.
Susan Singleton, Singletons Solicitors, Pinner, Middlesex