Diversity is at the heart of what we do, and we’re consistently working to make sure our selection processes are fair and free from bias. We believe in, and support the creation of, a judiciary that better reflects the society it serves.
How we support diversity
We have a Diversity Strategy which sets out how we will attract candidates from underrepresented groups and prepare them for judicial appointment, how we make sure that selection processes are fair and non-discriminatory, and how we undertake targeted outreach. You can read the latest information about our new and ongoing activities to delivery our strategy in our regular Diversity Updates.
We have four ‘target groups’ that data shows are underrepresented in the judiciary: women, ethnic minority candidates, disabled candidates and solicitors. Although we place a particular focus on these groups, all protected characteristics as defined by the Equality Act 2010, plus socio-economic background, are considered when carrying out equality impact assessments. There are a range of support schemes available that are targeted at candidates from underrepresented groups, such as the Pre-application Judicial Education programme (PAJE).
Review of JAC Shortlisting Tools 2018: summary report and conclusions
The JAC seeks external advice on its processes on a regular basis. Most recently in 2018 the JAC commissioned Work Psychology Group to undertake a research of shortlisting tools, focusing on differential progression of under-represented groups. The review endorsed JAC shortlisting processes and tools as being in line with best practice and provided recommendations for further improvement to ensure our selection tools fully assess the potential of candidates, particularly for entry-level roles.
Equal merit approach
Where two or more candidates in a selection exercise are judged as being of Equal merit, we can give priority to one or more candidates from underrepresented groups through our equal merit approach.
We want to make sure that candidates with disabilities and those with long-term health conditions can participate fully and fairly in all stages of the selection process. We will discuss your needs with you to find out what we can do to remove any barriers. Reasonable adjustments will also be considered for those with a short-term injury or temporary illness.
As part of our monitoring processes, we request demographic information from all candidates at the application stage. The information you provide is voluntary and is treated in the strictest confidence. The JAC will use the information you provide in two ways: where the Equal Merit approach applies, and to monitor the selection process. Read more about Diversity Monitoring
Targeted outreach and research team
Our Targeted Outreach and Research Team was set up in 2020 to lead three initiatives which specifically respond to the need to improve judicial diversity:
- Targeted Outreach programme: This programme of targeted outreach is designed to identify and support eligible candidates from under-represented target groups in their applications for key court and tribunal roles. Updates on progress in this area are included within the JAC Annual Report.
- Panel diversity: Ongoing work is undertaken in order to ensure that ethnically diverse selection panels are consistently convened as part of selection exercises. Data on panel diversity across the rolling selection exercise programme is published within the JAC Annual Report.
- Research: including overseeing research, analysis and stakeholder engagement on measures used successfully by other common law jurisdictions to improve judicial diversity – to better understand how these might be used in England and Wales. Our findings in this area were published in the JAC international research report in October 2022.
Working in partnership
Increasing judicial diversity is not something that can be achieved by one organisation alone: there are a range of different bodies who have important roles to play. This is why working in collaboration with partners, and supporting their individual diversity activities, is a core part of our work. Read more about the Judicial Diversity Forum.
We seek regular independent reviews of our selection processes to ensure we are following best practice approaches. We seek and act on feedback from candidates and stakeholders to make sure these processes are as fair as possible.