Ten steps to develop a programmatic approach to diversity
By Axiom Law
Diversity has been shown to drive team performance, problem-solving, innovation, transformation, productivity, and resilience. According to a study by McKinsey, diverse teams are 36% more likely to financially outperform non-diverse teams. In the legal industry, diversity is now a business requirement. However, while many companies have made strides in implementing diversity initiatives, the legal industry still lags when it comes to diversity and inclusion. In 2019, only 17% of lawyers at US law firms identified as racial or ethnic minorities, and only 36% were women. By comparison, 29% of Axiom lawyers are racial or ethnic minorities and 52% are women, more diverse than industry standards.
Legal leaders have an opportunity, and a responsibility, to move the needle on industry diversity and are well positioned to make an impact. Given the systemic nature of the lack of diversity and inclusion within the legal industry − and the business world in general − legal leaders must be at the forefront of developing and implementing programmatic solutions.
One concrete way to take a programmatic approach to diversity is by insisting on transparent diversity data from law firms, legal service providers, and other vendors. On the importance of detailed diversity data, Axiom executive LaMonte McGraw said, “Corporate-level diversity data, while informative, does not tell the full story of minority retention and advancement. To understand that story, to identify the root of those issues, we need to uncover more insightful statistics, like data on seniority, tenure, and pay/equity.”
Based on a roundtable discussion with over a dozen legal leaders, including several Chief Legal Operations Officers at Fortune 100 companies, we developed a list of actions legal leaders can employ as they begin to take a programmatic approach to diversity initiatives.
These legal leaders outlined ten concrete steps for building real, systemic diversity, including:
- Setting clear, data-driven diversity and inclusion targets
- Collecting holistic, granular diversity data internally, as well as and from law firms and vendors
- Segmenting diversity data to understand how diversity, seniority, and career advancement are correlated
- Applying diversity and inclusion standards to law firms and vendors as you would for information security
- Communicating with your vendors and law firms about your diversity targets and working together to create a more diverse legal ecosystem
To learn more about how you can take a programmatic approach to diversity and the ten actionable steps you can take to get started, download our guide.
My perspective on Axiom’s 2019 Diversity Report.
The legal industry needs to reconsider how legal work is structured in order to support inclusion and recruit and retain lawyers from diverse backgrounds.
Axiom’s lawyer bench continues to be more diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, and gender than industry standards.