Diversity in Law Firms
Change is coming rapidly in many areas, but far too slow in leadership roles
Diversity is not only the right thing to do, but also good business as well.
Many studies have shown that diversity of every type is a key factor for any business to drive growth and success. A more diverse business that truly supports a diverse culture is always a better business, regardless of the entity. Law firms should pay attention to this, as they have traditionally generally been viewed as a non-diverse profession, particularly small and mid-sized firms in leadership roles (partnership and senior levels).
Yes, more women are entering law school than men, and more women have opened their own firms in recent years than men. But they still lag at the partner and senior level in most firms.
That said, the future story looks great. Women have outnumbered men in law school for 5 years in a row from 2016 through 2020, and when the final numbers are in for 2021, it’s likely to be six years. That is a far cry from 1970, when women were 8.5% of law school students.
More detail and insights on legal gender diversity can be found at Enjuris in this great report.
And the ABA has been reporting on the challenges faced by women of color in law since 2006, with their latest publication “Left out and Left behind”, published in 2020. That is also worth a look.
And a standout report for me personally on the topic of gender diversity at work in general, “Women in the Workplace” by McKinsey and The LeanIn Organization. If you have never read it, it’s well worth it, and I would advise you to take a look. Now in its seventh year, there are valuable insights to be gathered from the data in the report. Although this study is based on Corporate America, the findings would generally cross all business entities. And the McKinsey/LeanIn report shows there is a long way to go for gender equality in the workplace, at least there have been gains, small as they may be, every year.
The 2021 McKinsey/LeanIn study can be found here.
Give this topic a good look and think about how it might apply in your firm.