How Inclusivity Can Save the AmLaw 100

Let’s start with a statement about which there can be no controversy. The healthiest law firm is one that uses its human resources most efficiently.

By now, anyone following women in business has read or heard about the 2007 Catalyst Report, The Bottom Line: Corporate Performance and Women’s Representation on Boards, demonstrating that the prime markers of business success – return on equity, return on sales, and return on invested capital — show marked improvement in Fortune 500 companies when there are at least three women on the Board of Directors.

This phenomenon does not occur because women are better managers. Improved corporate performance occurs as a result of diversity alone. As Harvard Business School professors Lakshmi Ramarajan and David Thomas explained in their 2010 working paper A Positive Approach to Studying Diversity in Organizations, the notion that minority board members bring unique information to the table that leads to improved performance, though beneficial, does not account for better results.

Rather, “mere membership in a diverse group is sufficient to motivate enhanced information sharing and processing and thereby improve group performance.”

Diversity Immediately Hits the Bottom Line.

You’d think that law firm managing partners and its business leadership would leap on this information and transform their diversity initiatives from the tepid initiatives they remain, with little funding beyond the maintenance of a web page – see how committed to diversity we are! – and the occasional public exhortation to hire, promote and retain women and minorities.

Yes, I’m talking to you AmLaw 100! with your miserable record in promoting and retaining women and minorities. We know that in your heart of hearts you’ve all but given up that which you’ve never sufficiently funded. But I’m being negative again . . .

                        author

Victoria Pynchon

Attorney-mediator Victoria Pynchon is a panelist with ADR Services, Inc. Ms. Pynchon was awarded her LL.M Degree in Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute in May of 2006, after 25 years of complex commercial litigation practice, with sub-specialties in intellectual property, securities fraud, antitrust, insurance coverage, consumer class actions and all… MORE >

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