Issues relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion are complex and interpretations of such issues are often subjective, tinted by a person’s own experiences and background. If these issues were easy to resolve, firms would have already found the solution to creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace. However, as we all know, while there have been minor increases, the percentages of lawyers from racial minority groups historically and currently lag behind each group’s respective population percentage. The work to increase diversity and effectuate real change has begun but because it will be hard and long-term, even generational, firms should use all the tools available to them to make it happen.
Although law firms have touted the implementation of a variety of diversity and inclusion (DI) initiatives to improve diversity within their own organization and in the legal profession at large, most firms have failed to install sustained, effective diversity strategies. Too often many of the initiatives fell by the wayside, half executed, or abandoned because the personnel responsible for implementing and sustaining the initiatives in law firm management or committees changed. Additionally, at some firms multiple independent committees were duplicating efforts or were offering conflicting advice or initiatives due to their failure to recognize the intersectionality of issues related to diversity and inclusion. Only with foundational knowledge and consistent implementation and coordination of diversity initiatives by a centralized designated person, can the initiatives have cohesiveness, intentionality and sustainability. Acknowledging that their diversity programs needed to be more coherent and focused, law firms have turned to hiring and appointing diversity officers.