At its annual legal conference, Lockheed Martin recently recognized global law firm K&L Gates for its commitment to inclusion and diversity.

The global security company performed an assessment of the law firm — in addition to other outside legal teams it works with — and considered qualifiers such as the percentage of minority and female timekeepers working on Lockheed Martin projects.

K&L Gates’ Valerie Jackson, senior advisor to the management committee and firm-wide director of diversity and inclusion, told Inside Counsel that “harnessing the value created by diversity in our client teams and leadership ranks keeps us close to our markets and drives innovation among our lawyers and staff,” among other benefits of maintaining diversity.

This is the first year that Lockheed Martin has recognized a law firm for excellence in diversity and inclusion, but K&L Gates is no stranger to excelling in these areas. In addition to the firm’s inclusion on Yale Law Women’s list of the Top 10 Family Friendly Firms of 2016, K&L Gates also was named the Outstanding Firm for Furthering Women’s Advancement (Recruitment, Retention and Promotion) in the 2015 Chambers Women in Law Awards, USA, and has been recognized as a “Top 100 Law Firm for Diversity” and a “Top 100 Law Firm for Women” by MultiCultural Law magazine.

Jackson said part of the impetus behind working towards these high standards of diversity is the evidence that diverse teams create more successful companies.

“As a client-focused professional services firm, we want the best and brightest of all backgrounds, with their varied perspectives and experiences, to work with us for the benefit of our firm and our clients,” she said.  But, she added, “A diverse workforce is not a panacea.”

The company needs to foster an environment that makes for an inclusive workplace culture that “welcomes talent from all backgrounds and provides a home where they want to stay and can thrive,” she explained.

Jackson also noted that an inclusive culture allows the whole staff to feel comfortable “bringing their full selves to work, thus allowing them to do more and give more” — an imperative for the firm’s success.

Some of the ways in which the firm builds its diverse team — and keeps it — is by focusing on recruitment and professional development efforts including diversifying promotion classes at all levels, and diversifying leadership ranks.

Jackson said: “For example, in two years, we more than doubled the number of women on the firm’s management committee, and this year over 54 percent of lawyers internally promoted to partner were women.”

K&L Gates has a broader strategy because of its international footprint, and focuses on two dimensions of diversity: inherent diversity such as age or ethnicity, and acquired diversity — characteristics that we attain through formative experiences such as military service, living in multiple countries, etc.

Jackson said that, most importantly, the proof is in the pudding: “The awards and recognitions we receive are objective measures of progress, but the true measure will be how our firm continues to grow and thrive as an inclusive, people-centered, client-focused business, all around the world.”

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