Reaching a Fully Diverse Law Office: Challenges and Opportunities
Reaching full equality in the legal field is an important and ongoing struggle, but it is not a challenge to shy away from. A law firm is a living and malleable thing that is constantly changing. Recognizing the benefit of creating, fostering, and relying on diversity in your law firm is a smart way to run a business.There is plenty of evidence to support the claim that firms and organizations with more women leaders outperform competitors financially. In September 2014, Credit Suisse published a study on gender diversity and corporate performance as a follow-up to its extensive 2012 report on the same topic. The study examined the board structure and corporate performance of 3,000 companies across 40 countries and all major sectors. The findings? The data suggested that diversity (as measured by the percentage of women on the board of directors) coincides with both better corporate financial performance and higher stock market valuations. No surprise.Gender diversity is something clients are beginning to expect and appreciate. At the end of the day, you don’t create a diverse workforce for appearance. You do it because it’s the better practice—because you want the best people at the table. And the best people don’t all look the same.When you bring a diverse group of individuals together to make decisions about firm growth and client development, devise legal strategies, present a case to a jury, or give back to the community, you’ll be far more successful than you would have been with a homogenized approach, developed by a room full of clones nodding their heads in unison.The diversity movement is gaining traction in many industries, yet the legal field lags far behind. According to the American Bar Association, 88% of lawyers are white. That means lawyers are less diverse than architects, engineers, accountants, physicians, and surgeons.It’s clear that change is needed. When advocating for greater diversity in law or in any profession, having the courage of your convictions is one of the first steps that need to be taken. You have to know it’s not just the right thing to do; it’s the better thing to do.