Becoming an Advocate for Diversity and Inclusion
What Is Diversity and Inclusion? Diversity and inclusion are about recognizing, respecting and valuing differences based on gender, race, skin color, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, physical ability, and sexual orientation. This also encompasses an infinite range of individual characteristics and experiences, such as communication style, career path, political views, educational background, geographic location, income level, military experience, marital status, parental status and other variables that influence personal perspectives.
This kaleidoscope of life, work and cultural experiences — our individual uniqueness — causes each of us to view situations, opportunities and challenges through a different lens, resulting in different ways of thinking and making choices. Organizations that will be successful in the future demonstrate a high degree of competence in their ability to harness the benefits this diversity of vision, thought and perspective offers, tapping into this rich wealth of resources to leverage superior business performance.
Homogeneity may adversely affect behavior.
In addition to understanding the business case for diversity, we should also be looking at the case against homogeneity. Evan Apfelbaum, the W. Maurice Young Career Development Professor of Management and an Assistant Professor of Organization Studies at the MIT Sloan School of Management, says, “Emerging research suggests that homogeneity can lead individuals to underestimate the actual complexity of group tasks because they assume that others’ behavior is more predictable than it actually is.” See more at mitsloanexperts.mit.edu/diversity-in-the-workplace.
Why Diversity? Fast Facts:
• Clients are requiring firms to meet outside-counsel guidelines and holding them accountable for meeting specific diversity and inclusion goals.2
• Among companies with more than $10 billion in annual revenues, 56 percent strongly agreed that diversity helps drive innovation.3
• Diversity is an area in which law firms have traditionally not competed well.4
• Diversity jolts us into cognitive action in ways that homogeneity simply does not.5
• When teams had one or more members who represented a target end user, the entire team was as much as 158% more likely to understand that target end user and innovate accordingly.6
• The importance and value of a more diverse and inclusive legal profession goes well beyond dollars and cents. A diverse and inclusive legal profession is fundamental to social justice.7
Source: McKinsey analysis; see resource #1
• Diversity is associated with increased sales revenue, more customers, greater market share and greater relative profits.8
• There are five generations in the workforce today – unprecedented in history – and profitable processes demand the ability to effectively manage cross-generationally.9
Beyond Diversity: Inclusion = Success
• Inclusion is more than a program; it should be woven throughout every aspect of an organization’s philosophy.
• The best way for firms to support women and diverse attorneys is to have a leadership structure that features attorneys like them. When diverse lawyers look up, they want to see successful women, black, Latino, Asian and LGBT leaders. They want to know that there’s an opportunity for them, too, to reach that level.4
• An inclusive platform for diverse attorneys to succeed — supported and funded by the firm — may identify and propel a new generation of leaders that reflects demographically what law firm management should be.4
• In most law firms, professional development and diversity and inclusion are separate initiatives. Instead of having committees for both, invite a group of lawyers and professionals from both areas to join an advisory group to share perspective and thoughts, and then ask participants to set a living example for others. While subtle, the minor change can be a powerful way to shift the focus to behavioral outcomes. 10
ALA is the premier professional association connecting leaders and managers within the legal industry. We provide extensive professional development, collaborative peer communities, strategic operational solutions, and business partner connections empowering our members to lead the business of law.
Led by its Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Committee, ALA is committed to this initiative within the organization, its membership and the legal profession as a whole — including but not limited to differences of race, ethnicity, national origin, culture, skin color, personality, geography, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, ability, political or religious affiliation, socioeconomic status, or military experience.
A full library of free, dynamic resources can be found on this website. The committee is working on an update to the scorecard. Questions? Email [email protected]. Download and print this brochure, Why Diversity and Inclusion?, or contact the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Committee at [email protected] to request printed copies. Join the diversity and inclusion conversation in its social media discussions.
1. “Why Diversity Matters.” mckinsey.com/businessfunctions/organization/our-insights/why-diversitymatters
2. “IILP Review 2017: The State of Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession,” The Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession, pp. 52-55. theiilp.com/ resources/Pictures/IILP_2016_Final_LowRes.pdf
3. “Fostering Innovation Through a Diverse Workforce.” forbes.com/forbesinsights/innovation_diversity
4. “Embrace Diversity as a Business Imperative,” New York Law Journal. cadwalader.com/uploads/news/3f0392fc8e18c872f42465a70f8a6bd4.pdf
5. “How Diversity Makes Us Smarter.” scientificamerican.com/article/how-diversity-makes-us-smarter/
6. “The Evidence Is Growing — There Really Is a Business Case for Diversity.” ft.com/content/4f4b3c8e-d521-11e3-9187-00144feabdc0
7. “The Business Case for Diversity: Reality or Wishful Thinking?”, The Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession and the Association of Legal Administrators. theiilp.com/CaseforDiversity
8. “Does Diversity Pay?”, American Sociological Review, American Sociological Association. asanet.org/sites/default/files/savvy/images/journals/docs/pdf/asr/Apr09ASRFeature.pdf
9. “Five Generations of Employees in Today’s Workforce,” The Center for Generational Kinetics. genhq.com/five-generations-of-employees-in-todaysworkforce/
10. “Motivating Lawyers to Move from Activity to Impact: The Intersection of Professional Development and Diversity,” Law Practice Today May 2013.