Promote Diversity and Inclusivity to Increase Organizational Success and
The research is clear: Diverse organizations perform better —not only are they more profitable, but they are in a better position to recruit talent, and their diverse teams make better decisions than homogeneous groups.
While diversity alone is a laudable goal, organizations and the individuals within them fare better when they also pursue inclusion equity. Consequently, organizations should define them separately:
- Diversity —The presence of difference within a given setting. Often diversity will refer to the social identities of people within an organization.
- Inclusion —The process by which people with different identities feel valued and welcomed in a given setting. Inclusion is a set of behaviors that embrace diversity and leverage them to make the organization more successful. An organization can be diverse without being inclusive.
- Equity — A process to ensure people have access to the same opportunities, while recognizing that not everyone starts from the same place and that eliminating barriers may be necessary to ensure opportunity.
The United States Supreme Court has recognized the value of diversity in many contexts, and, in one case commented, “Effective participation by members of all racial and ethnic groups in the civic life of our Nation is essential of the dream of one Nation, indivisible, is to be realized.” The benefits of diversity, however, are not limited to race and ethnicity, and apply with equal force to other social identities, including gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, age, ability status, religion and creed. And effective participation in the civil life of our Nation should include the opportunity to receive a legal education and practice the profession of law.
Despite the importance of diversity in promoting a just society, law remains one of the least diverse professions, both in terms of racial and ethnic diversity and gender diversity. Equally concerning is the fact that approximately 70% of diverse associate attorneys and approximately 85% of diverse lateral attorneys leave their firms within five years of being hired.
Equity and inclusion impact the well-being of employees within organizations. In one study, over 80% of employees who experienced, or even witnessed, bias in the workplace reported that it had a negative effect upon their happiness, confidence, and well-being. Unfortunately, in many organizations, employees often feel that they must “hide” or “assimilate” one or more aspects of their identities, even though research demonstrates that their performance suffers when they do so. Ultimately, a sense of belonging within an organization reduces employees’ stress levels and improves their physical health and emotional well-being.
To achieve the benefits of inclusion and promote well-being, organizations must do more than simply treat diversity as a question of demographics. Organizations that value diversity only as measured by the demographic profile of designated groups will fare less well than organizations that broadly value inclusion and belonging. Consequently, organizations should focus upon dimensions of organizational culture that promote employee belonging and retention, including:
- Common purpose — Individuals experience a connection to the mission, vision, and values of the organization.
- Trust — Individuals have confidence that the policies, practices, and procedures of the organization will allow them to bring their best and full self to work.
- Appreciation of individual attributes — Individuals perceive that they are valued and can successfully navigate the organizational structure in their expressed group identity.
- Sense of belonging — Individuals experience their social group identity as being connected with and accepted in the organization.
- Access to opportunity — Individuals perceive that they are able to find and utilize support for their professional development and advancement.
- Equitable reward and recognition: Individuals perceive the organization as having equitable compensation practices and nonfinancial incentives.
- Cultural competence: Individuals believe the institution has the capacity to make creative use of its diverse workforce in a way that meets business goals and enhances performance.
- Respect: Individuals experience a culture of civility and positive regard for diverse perspectives.
|1. Participate in the Colorado Pledge to Diversity.|
Introduce your organization to talented law students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds and provide summer clerkship opportunities to diverse law students. Visit https://coloradopledge.com/ for more information on joining The Pledge.
|2. Join the Center for Legal Inclusiveness.|
Provide your employees with access to diversity, inclusion, and equity training, resources, and events.
Visit https://centerforlegalinclusiveness.org/ for more
information on CLI membership.
|3. Directly offer or support lawyers in attending business development symposia or other educational opportunities specifically designed for women and traditionally underrepresented lawyers.||Easy|
|4. Incentivize participation in diversity, inclusion, and equity education and initiatives by incorporating engagement into the organization’s compensation structure.||Easy|
|5. Create an effective and sustainable internal mentoring and sponsorship program for women and lawyers from underrepresented communities.|
Utilize the resources of the Colorado Attorney Mentoring
Program to assist in developing these programs or improving
current internal mentoring and sponsorship programs.
Visit www.coloradomentoring.org for more information on the
|6. Develop a robust and substantive equity, diversity, & inclusion initiative within the organization.|
· Consider creating a position dedicated to improving and
sustaining diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging within the organization.
· Develop a diversity & inclusion action plan.
· Include diversity, inclusion, and equity goals in the
organization’s business or strategic plan.
· Create ongoing programming and educational
opportunities for lawyers regarding implicit bias.
· Evaluate institutional barriers to the success of women
and underrepresented lawyers and create a plan to remedy
· Survey employees on organizational culture, lawyer
autonomy, morale, and belonging.