Many legal organizations are dissatisfied with their diversity and inclusion programs. Some consider the time and effort dedicated to these efforts, and are disappointed with the results, or are unsure whether their programs are truly meaningful. Because this kind of introspection typically takes place at the beginning of a new year, it seemed a good time to provide reminders that may help evaluations of your firm’s diversity and inclusion program.
1. Have a diversity and inclusion program.
The only way to ensure disappointing diversity and inclusion program results is not to have a program at all. Do not let a (mis)perception about the amount of time and effort that may be required derail an attempt, any attempt, no matter how small. Even highly focused efforts can have an impact over time. The very act of including a diversity and inclusion theme in an organization’s collective mindset may, if reinforced, become embedded in its culture and deliver positive effects.
2. Include a fundamental cornerstone.
An uncomplicated “mantra” will clearly distill the meaning behind a diversity and inclusion program, simplify messaging, and enhance recall. Something as straightforward as “treat others the way they want to be treated” is likely sufficient to catch the attention of and encourage consideration by colleagues in most organizations.
3. Conduct diversity diligence.
Metrics are critical. Revisiting the value of chosen measurements and evaluating progress against them are two equally important tasks. The effect of diversity and inclusion programs is impacted most when the program itself evolves to address current and upcoming needs. For example, considering whether recruitment data is still a valid diversity and inclusion program criteria is as important as a notable change to that statistic.
A comprehensive, all-encompassing diversity and inclusion program will include any number of elements, such as how to address unconscious bias, observing cultural heritage months, and tracking employee engagement. But a diversity and inclusion program need not be overly complex to have an effect. In fact, a minimalist approach may be the most appropriate for many organizations. Diversity and inclusion efforts need not be difficult. Just an attempt itself is meaningful for those involved, and that, in and of itself, is a good start.
About the Author
Patricia S. Carrera is an attorney and senior director for member experience for the Association of Legal Administrators. She is a member of the ABA Law Practice Division’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee.