How are businesses gauging and increasing diversity?
New research provides insight into how law departments and their broader organisations are looking to increase diversity, and the demographics via which they are doing it.
Last month, Lawyers Weekly reported that the 2021 CLOC State of the Industry report – produced by the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium and the Association of Corporate Counsel, which surveyed over 200 organisations across the globe, spanning over 22 industries in 21 countries – found that implementing a diversity and inclusion program is the top-ranked priority for law departments in 2021.
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More than six in 10 (61 per cent) of respondents viewed it as a high priority, while 27 per cent of the balance of respondents see it as a medium priority, and 12 per cent see it as a low priority.
Following the publishing of said research, Lawyers Weekly spoke with three senior corporate counsel about the findings, all of whom said that law department leaders have a duty to drive change in meaningful ways.
A survey compiled by Bloomberg Law – which received responses from 272 law firm lawyers and 157 in-house lawyers based in the US about considerations pertaining to legal operations – found that more than seven in 10 organisations (71 per cent) have, or plan to have, metrics in place to gauge diversity. Just 29 per cent said they have no such plans.
When asked which metrics organisations have in place to track diversity, 83 per cent identified race/ethnicity and 80 per cent pointed to gender. Approximately one in two organisations also measure by age, disability, job satisfaction, veteran status and employee wellbeing.
Interestingly, fewer than one in five respondents said that their organisations track neurodiversity (that is, variations in the brain regarding sociability, learning, attention, mood and “other functions in a non-pathological sense, especially when used in the context of the autistic spectrum”).
When it comes to initiatives being put in place to increase diversity, in-house teams appear to be a mixed bag.
Almost all (87 per cent) have internal diversity training, but after this, the next most popular measure is allowing for or increasing remote working opportunities, with 62 per cent of law departments doing so.
Elsewhere, 61 per cent of law departments have changed recruitment patterns, 55 per cent are engaging with local organisations that support or highlight diverse workers, 52 per cent have internal mentoring programs, 39 per cent have formal internal sponsorship programs and 34 per cent are revising their screening procedures to ensure that blind resume screening.
While the research did not extrapolate on the effectiveness of various initiatives to increase diversity, the extent to which US-based law departments are utilising different approaches should give food for thought to Australian-based teams as to what approaches might be best in achieving their diversity and inclusion goals.