DEI goes hand in hand with Human Resources. A statement of fact, no? Well, I think we push the envelope a little further. After all, people run every department, meaning diversity, equity, and inclusion are always relevant. Let’s consider… Legal!
Implementing DEI into legal departments may seem glaringly obvious — just have a diverse team of lawyers at hand, right? Well, while diversity on the level of one’s team is certainly crucial, the incorporation of DEI into legal affairs can expand much further!
That sounds well and good, you may be thinking, but where do I begin?
A great question! Wolkters Kluwer offers the following starting point for Chief Legal Officers: “Start by interviewing the stakeholders. Ask your attorneys how they are making their assignments. Ask law firms whether they have diversity data and are willing to report it. If not, ask why and find out how you can help them change that policy.” Completing these steps helps ground an organization’s legal department in DEI from the get-go and moreover asserts to the law firms they may potentially work with that DEI is a make-or-break factor. Beyond this start, here are a few more tips for implementing DEI into the legal aspects of one’s organization:
- When outsourcing legal matters, consider the diversity of law firms and legal service providers.
- Develop measurable DEI goals. When doing so, create accountability metrics for providers, such as “the implementation of a certification system for hiring and promotion.” Deloitte explains that “[o]ne example of a certification in the legal field ‘measures whether an organization has affirmatively considered at least 30% women, attorneys of color, LGBTQ+, and lawyers with disabilities for leadership and governance roles, such as equity partner promotions, formal client pitch opportunities, and senior lateral positions.’” Such certification helps ensure organizational commitment to DEI beyond HR. (Even though this type of certification is specific to the legal side of business, wouldn’t it be amazing to include such accountability for all fields?)
- Gather and maintain diversity data within one’s own department as well as any law firms the organization works with. Specifically, create a dedicated staff to “continuously check on diversity information gathered and call firms to follow up where data is missing.”
As with Human Resources, implementing DEI strategies into Legal departments is only as challenging as we let it be. With regular monitoring of DEI metrics and an emphasis on diverse certification, maintaining an environment of diversity and inclusion is easier than ever!
Dima Ghawi is the founder of a global talent development company with a primary mission for advancing individuals in leadership. Through keynote speeches, training programs and executive coaching, Dima has empowered thousands of professionals across the globe to expand their leadership potential. In addition, she provides guidance to business executives to develop diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies and to implement a multi-year plan for advancing quality leaders from within the organization.