By Scott E. Pacheco, Director of Marketing and Communications at Lerch, Early & Brewer, Chtd.
The events of the past year have prompted companies to reassess their approach to diversity, equity and inclusion in their leadership ranks, in their interactions with clients and during hiring.
Building a culture of inclusion requires more than just a DEI leading diversity efforts in your business. Innovative strategies are essential to stand out in the crowd.
Law firms – for good reason – have placed an emphasis on differentiation, and it’s important not to overlook the opportunity. I recently reached out to Tahisha Fugate, Senior Director of DEI Client Development at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, and she shared five ways companies can differentiate themselves through technical and creative innovation:
1. Add feature to lawyer bios with audio recording of names, similar to LinkedIn.
The pronunciation of someone’s name is very important. Avoiding second guessing about trying to pronounce someone’s name before meeting them – especially before a critical meeting with a client – can help you make a good first impression, and the technology is there (see LinkedIn) .
2. Create opportunities for intersectional programs and events.
Through intersectionality – recognizing that people experience discrimination based on multiple and intersecting identities, e.g. race, religion, ethnicity, etc. – we can all support each other. Creating authentic opportunities to learn about and experience other cultures is important to include in your company’s DEI strategy.
3. Inclusive affinity groups that include legal professionals and lawyers.
These groups – made up of those who share similar experiences – allow everyone to come together, whatever their title, in an organized way to support and encourage each other.
4. Allow lawyers to list their pronouns on email signatures and website biographies.
An optional pronoun policy is an inexpensive and highly visible action that can have a big impact. It also encourages others to respect preferences.
5. Remove education information from bios – only include bar information.
This will eliminate prejudice in the screening and increase the consideration of lawyers who have chosen other avenues to enter law school. It is very important to address how we define qualifications and what is considered ‘next level’ for inclusion.
Whether you’ve done any or all of these things, or not at all, it’s important to recognize the business advantage that differentiating your business in the DCI space can bring, from hire to retention, to winning new business. and, ultimately, deliver a higher quality product of the work.
Fugate sums it up succinctly: “The future and growth of your business depends on new and innovative approaches to creating a culture of inclusion.