Industrial-Strength Diversity and Inclusion

Sometimes, it’s a matter of perspective.

In art and architecture, perspective can change one’s view and perceptions. From ink blots to Vatican Museum masterpieces to the columns of the Parthenon or the Colonnade in St. Peter’s Square, perspective influences what we see and changes what we understand.

The legal profession has been addressing the lack of diversity and inclusion within its ranks for decades.  We’ve looked at it in terms of the type of diversity (gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.), practice settings (corporate in-house, law firms, etc.), geography (state and local bar diversity programs and conferences), practice areas (litigation, labor and employment law, business law, etc.), and even the intersection of some or all of these. Yet our profession remains one of the least diverse in America.

If it is true that corporate clients can drive diversity and inclusion in the legal profession – and they have certainly been effective at garnering attention for the diversity challenges that the legal profession faces – then one might reasonably expect that all the attention paid to diversity and inclusion initiatives initiated as a result of client demands might have yielded far greater success. That it has not suggests that corporate clients might not in fact have the ability to influence the rest of the profession, or that they’ve not fully exercised their influence, or that they have yet to find the best way to do so. Perhaps a different perspective is needed.

With that in mind, the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession (“IILP”) is launching a series of programs designed to look at the lack of diversity and inclusion in the legal profession from a new perspective, that of the various industries that comprise the legal profession’s business clients.

“Industrial-Strength Diversity and Inclusion” will delve into how different industries – e.g., financial services, consumer goods, technology – are addressing diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. It will look at each industry’s diversity and inclusion objectives, seek to understand the driving forces for diversity and inclusion in that industry, and examine relevant strategies and promising initiatives on an industry-wide basis so that those in the same arena – business partners, competitors, suppliers, regulators, etc. – can discuss and explore what clients in that industry – and the outside counsel who seek to provide their legal services – can, are, and should be doing to promote greater diversity and inclusion in their law departments, among their outside counsel, and within the broader legal profession. Participants will gain greater insights into, and understanding of, the forces at work in driving the diversity and inclusion efforts of different industries so as to better identify and implement those strategies best-suited to be effective in a given industry.

Watch this space for the upcoming schedule and locations of Industrial-Strength Diversity and Inclusion!

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