Turning Ideas Into Action: Improving Diversity in the Legal Profession
Today, employers across the country are seeking innovative and creative ways to boost diversity, equity, and inclusion among their teams. This is especially true within the legal profession, where employers literally set the standards for justice and fairness. It’s essential, therefore, for recruiters who partner with legal professionals to understand modern diversity best practices, and to incorporate those into their day-to-day operations with clients and job candidates.
Considering the rate of change that’s happening all around us, however, it can be difficult for recruiters to keep track of all of these new best practices. Difficult, but not impossible. In this article, I’ll highlight a few key insights about how recruiters can help to improve diversity within the modern legal profession.
Education is key.
In my experience, many employers pay lip service to the primacy of promoting diversity without having a clear understanding of the practical benefits that it can provide. There’s so much research that supports the benefits of having a diverse workforce. All business leaders say that they value creativity and innovation, yet employers routinely hire people that look the same and that come from similar backgrounds. When you diversify your workforce, however, you’ll begin to see an influx of creativity and innovation in day-to-day business meetings, and this will be a natural result of the diverse perspectives that you’re introducing into the workplace.
It’s essential, therefore, for recruiters to have a clear understanding of the benefits of hiring a diverse workforce, and to be able to communicate those to clients who only have a vague understanding of why diversity should be prioritized. Recruiters, in other words, can play a key role in helping to inform and empower clients who have made it their goal to build a more diverse workforce.
Diversity is multidimensional.
It’s a common mistake amongst employers to approach diversity initiatives with only ethnic and cultural diversity in mind. Those dimensions are great places to start, but they’re not the whole picture. There are a wide variety of dimensions when it comes to diversity, including (but not limited to) gender diversity, ability diversity, language diversity, generational diversity, educational background diversity, socioeconomic diversity, and diversity of sexual orientation. The point is, there are a lot of different types of diversity to keep track of and to work towards in the modern workplace.
These various dimensions of diversity may feel overwhelming to employers who are new to in-house diversity promotion, but the good news is that they don’t necessarily require individualized approaches or financial investments. Each type of diversity can be maximized through an expert recruiter who understands how to source top talent candidates across all possible demographics.
Diversity needs to become an ingrained element of workplace culture.
Throughout my career, I’ve seen many employers make a short-term commitment to promoting workplace diversity, and then fail to follow through and make it a long-term, lasting commitment.
This is a problem, because diversity and inclusion are not features that can be added to a workplace culture overnight – they are deep values that must be practiced, reiterated, and incorporated at every level within an organization. In other words, promoting diversity in the workplace takes time.
Far too often, law firms are not able to attract talented candidates because they’re not taking the proper steps to ensure that every employee will feel confident, acknowledged, empowered, and understood. In light of that, it’s essential for leadership at all levels within law firms to commit wholeheartedly to the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. One way that the legal profession is working to make lasting change is through the The Mansfield Rule. While Mansfield alone isn’t a cure, firms and companies that sign on are making a firm commitment to consider a minimum of 30% diverse candidates for key roles including leadership roles, equity partner promotions, and senior lateral positions. Partnering with a professional recruiter can make it easier for you and your team to adhere to the Mansfield Rule and meet your other workplace diversity goals!