Diversity

Tech Industry Leaders Are Beginning To Accept The Diversity Challenge; U.S. Law Partners Should Do The Same

diversity diverse workforce business law firm minority lawyers“The sky is falling, the wind is calling / Stand for something, or die in the morning.” – Kendrick Lamar

During the Computer Electronics Show (CES) this month, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich pledged $300 million to increase the company’s workforce diversity.  In his keynote speech, Krzanich stated, “It’s not good enough to say we value diversity and then underrepresent women and minorities. Intel wants to lead by example.” Which law firms this year will also lead by example?

Krzanich did not set any specific quotas. Instead, he stated that Intel’s goal is “full representation” of women and underrepresented minorities in the company’s U.S. workforce by 2020, including more diversity across senior leadership positions. As highlighted by Time, “Silicon Valley has long been considered a boy’s club, with major tech companies like Twitter and Google revealing demographics that skew toward white, male workers.” Is the legal profession any different?

Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, has become a powerful voice for women in the science and technology fields. Sandberg recently stated, “No industry or country can reach its full potential until women reach their full potential. This is especially true of science and technology, where women with a surplus of talent still face a deficit of opportunity… I know from my own experience that the path to change is best traveled when we travel together.Many agree with Sandberg that diversity makes teams smarter, leads to better decisions, and helps groups solve problems more effectively. Who among the Am Law 200 managing partners is willing to be the voice for diversity that the legal field so desperately needs?

The “brogrammer” culture of the tech industry was reaffirmed when Google released its diversity statistics last year. The report revealed what many believed – the tech industry doesn’t welcome and often shuts out women and minorities. This indistinct sense of a “culture fit” is commonly recognized as an unconscious bias that pervades the tech industry. How does this hidden bias affect our industry? Since Google divulged its diversity statistics last May, it has launched several initiatives to get young students more interested in coding. Google also plans on administering an unconscious bias training program to promote an unbiased and inclusive place to work. What is preventing the majority of law firms from implementing these same type of policies?

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