When it comes to diversity within law firms, the numbers may be getting better, but are still nowhere near ideal. Unfortunately for those firms that don't get a passing grade when it comes to diversity, more and more clients these days actually care about the diversity of the law firm they hire.
And while there may be many reasons behind the lack of diversity, one way that individual law firms can work to be part of the solution rather than the problem is to create a diversity and inclusion program.
What's a Diversity and Inclusion Program?
Simply put, a diversity and inclusion program is a set of instructions for the firm to follow to help it achieve its diversity goals.
This may include holding regular meetings among partners or a firm committee to explore recruiting options, or changing the firm's policies, branding, or advertising, to attract diverse talent. But whatever it is, it should be thoughtfully created to address each law firm's specific needs and challenges, as well as set up accountability structures so the firm can ensure that it is making progress.
What's the Point of a Program?
While firms may not want to devote formal time and energy into a program that many partners might feel requires more work than necessary, it's worth noting that if a firm isn't diverse, the partners' feelings need to take a backseat to reality and accountability. Nowadays, diversity makes dollars and sense, as clients are demanding it. And as explained over on the Law Practice Today blog, the only way to guarantee bad results from a diversity program is "to not have a program at all."
Because a firm's diversity and inclusion program should be custom tailored to the firm, in the end, the point of any program should be to accomplish the goals a firm sets out to accomplish.
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