Improving the culture, governance and running of the Society of Labour Lawyers

Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

For some time I have been working to try to improve the culture, governance and working practices of the Society of Labour Lawyers. A motion proposed by me was passed unanimously by the SLL December 2018 annual general meeting requesting that the SLL Executive Committee set up a working group to “review and set out recommendations and/or options for reforming SLL’s constitution, corporate governance, working processes and diversity” and that the “working group should report to a general meeting or the next SLL AGM as appropriate with recommendations and/or options for reform.”

The working group that was set subsequently set up focussed solely on the SLL constitution, rather than the wider working of the socienty. However, some important changes to the constitution were made however, including ensuring gender balance on the SLL Executive Committee and amongst Group co-chairs, creating the role of Equality Officer and introducing elections for Group co-chairs, all of which I proposed or strongly supported.

It was agreed that more work was needed regarding governance and diversity and a working group on governance and diversity was set up in October 2020. As part of this, the workstreams set out below were identified.

GOVERNANCE

Procedure for organising SLL events
Considering how SLL can support branches/groups (e.g. creating a toolkit for group/branch chairs setting out how SLL can support their activities)
Carrying out a survey and/or workshop with SLL members to get feedback from them on how SLL could be improved
Considering the values and culture SLL should support and how to promote this within SLL
Reviewing SLL’s arrangements for administrative support
Considering how SLL could better engage with members outside London
Considering whether SLL should incorporate
Process for authorising spending
Considering whether SLL should have management accounts that are circulated to the executive on a regular basis
Reviewing SLL’s approach to GDPR compliance
Considering whether SLL should have a safeguarding policy
Considering how SLL engages with the press
Considering whether SLL should have an advisory group

DIVERSITY

Considering whether/how SLL can collect diversity data from members
Considering whether SLL should develop mentoring schemes for members underrepresented groups/reverse mentoring
Considering whether the SLL EC should have diversity and/or unconscious bias training
Create equality groups for members
Considering how SLL can recruit more diverse members
Developing procedures for ensuring that SLL events are accessible as possible

Unfortunately, in January 2021, just as the working group was starting its work, it was shut down. Since then, an equality group led by the SLL Equality Officer, Kamaal Bola, was set up in July 2021 and this has been taking forwad the diversity aspects of the work plan. However, there has been no equivalent group to take forward the governance aspects. As far as I am aware, the only of these workstreams where there has been material progress since January 2021, has been in relation to a process for organising events. This is concerning as they include important areas, including in particular SLL’s culture, safeguarding, GDPR compliance and financial transparency/accountability.

The SLL AGM on 6 December is a potential opportunity to discuss SLL’s approach to these issues and how they could be progressed.

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