Firms must make a special effort to ensure women, ethnic minorities, LGBT+ staff and disabled communities are not unfairly affected by job losses and pay cuts in the wake of the pandemic, a legal diversity network has insisted.

The Apollo Leadership Institute – an initiative of the InterLaw Diversity Forum – said equality assessments setting out staff categorisations should be conducted to avoid protected groups bearing the brunt of coronavirus. Employees with multiple protected characteristics ‘may require special consideration’, it said.

In an open letter published today, senior in-house lawyers, general counsel and law school heads say the pandemic is having a ‘disproportionate social and economic impact’ on members of protected categories including women, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBT+ and disabled communities.

‘Added to this, there is a heightened focus on inequality in our society and institutions with the Black Lives Matter civil rights movement gaining important momentum,’ it says.

Bosses are urged to keep their ‘moral, ethical and legal obligations’ at the forefront of their coronavirus planning: ‘Best practice in this regard should include every step being assessed for disparate impact on these [protected] groups.’

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