SRA ‘not racist’ but black solicitors treated harshly

March 14, 2014 in Gus in the Media, Print

The Independent newspaper published the article below on 14/03/2014.

The body that investigates solicitors has been cleared of institutional racism despite an independent inquiry concluding that it disproportionately pursues black and minority ethnic (BME) lawyers for alleged wrongdoing.

Ethnic-minority lawyers were more likely to be the subject of investigations and tend to receive stiffer punishments than their white counterparts, according to a report commissioned by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) into its own activities.

The report found that ethnic-minority lawyers were at greater risk of breaking regulations because they were more likely to set up on their own earlier in their careers. This was in turn because of a lack of opportunity at big firms, which retain a bias in favour of public-school and Oxbridge employees, according to  Professor Gus John, who led the review.

But his report concluded: “It is important that these results are not immediately interpreted as evidence of discrimination or racism on an institutional level.” Read the rest of this entry →

Disproportionate representation of BME solicitors in SRA’s work “not caused by racism”

March 13, 2014 in Gus in the Media, Print

The Legal Futures website published the article below on 13/03/2014

The disproportionately high representation of black and minority ethnic (BME) solicitors in the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) disciplinary work is caused by broader socio-economic factors around access to the profession, and not discrimination by the regulator, a major independent report has concluded.

However, equality and race relations expert Professor Gus John said the SRA needs to “look very carefully and urgently at how sole practitioners and small firms are regulated”.

Professor John was appointed in August 2012 to investigate the longstanding issue of disproportionality, which triggered the 2008 Ouseley report. As part of it, he also reviewed six cases where BME solicitors had specifically alleged discrimination – some with the vocal support of the Society of Black Lawyers – and found “no evidence” to support such claims. Read the rest of this entry →

SRA focus too narrowly on regulating in the public interest

March 13, 2014 in Gus in the Media, Print

The Solicitors Journal published the following article on 13/03/2014

The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s narrow focus on regulating in the public interest has had a disproportionately adverse effect on BME firms, the author of a major review into allegations of regulatory discrimination has said.

The Independent Comparative Case Review, by diversity expert Professor Gus John, built on previous research by Lord Ouseley in 2008 and Pearn Kandola in 2010, both of which highlighted concerns that regulatory approach before the introduction of outcomes-focused regulation discriminated against black, ethnic and minority solicitors.

It cleared the SRA of discrimination against BME firms, but Professor John said these practices were nevertheless disproportionately affected by the regulator’s then approach to compliance and enforcement. Read the rest of this entry →

Free schools failing on equalities, new research shows

November 9, 2013 in Blog, Gus in the Media, Press Releases

Fenton Classroom, by Wolfram Burner (Flickr)

Fenton Classroom, by Wolfram Burner (Flickr)

Race on the Agenda (ROTA) has published new research that shows that free schools are failing to comply with statutory requirements on equality.

The research appears soon after the recent Ofsted inspection of the Al-Madinah free school in Derby, which found that statutory requirements, including those on equality, were not being met.

The Equality Act 2010 requires all schools, including free schools, to fulfil the public sector equality duty. By 6 April 2012, all schools should have published information to demonstrate their compliance with the duty, and should have published one or more specific and measurable equality objectives. Read the rest of this entry →

Where Now for Black History Month?

November 3, 2013 in Blog, Gus talks, Papers

"African Diaspora" by beautifulcataya (Flickr - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

“African Diaspora” by beautifulcataya (Flickr – CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Most every year at this time, a debate ensues about the purpose, merits and direction of Black History Month (BHM), a debate fuelled in the main by frustration about the focus of BHM programmes over the preceding four weeks. 

On Thursday 31 October 2013, some 1,000 people gathered at the Church of Christ the Redeemer in Allenbury Road, Greenford, for the funeral of the publisher and political activist Jessica Huntley and to acknowledge and celebrate her distinctive contribution to British schooling, British social history and Black History over the last half a century.

One of the many educational and inspirational events Jessica organized and contributed to in the period before her death was a debate in November 2012 about ‘the way forward for Black History Month in the UK’.  On 22 February 2013, Nubian Jak organized a symposium at the Africa Centre in Covent Garden, London, on a proposal for an annual ‘African Heritage Month International‘ celebration in February.  On February 23rd, the 8th Huntley Conference was held at the London Metropolitan Archives. This also marked Jessica’s 86th birthday and turned out to be her last conference.

I was unable to contribute to the Huntley debate but wrote this paper for the Africa Centre symposium.  I reproduce it here because among the very many discussions that took place around Jessica’s funeral about the many projects she was actively involved with up to the day before she passed on, was one about her take on the future of Black History Month. Read the rest of this entry →