In today’s globalized marketplace, diversity and inclusion are more important than ever. Yet measurable progress in increasing workplace diversity remains stagnant. The reasons why are as varied as the potential solutions, but one thing I think most can agree on is that diversity is good for business. Why then can’t we accelerate the pace of change?
Diversity is the fuel for innovation and growth. Without diversity of thought, innovation has no chance. Our clients understand this. It is not a coincidence that many of our clients are recognized as leaders in innovation as well as for their diverse and inclusive practices.
The challenge is to have diversity ingrained fully into the overall strategy of a business, and embodied by its people. Only through meaningful engagement and maximizing the contributions of each member of an organization can we truly integrate diversity as a natural part of the way we innovate. This is not easy, but the rewards are great.
A significant hurdle is unconscious bias. Each one of us has such biases, so what is important is not to blame, but to raise awareness and understanding so that its impact can be minimized. As firms become more conscious about inherent bias, the more productive and effective the dialogue will become.
Accountability also plays a vital role. If diversity and inclusion is viewed simply as a ‘nice to have’ program that is solely the responsibility of one department, it will be much more difficult to achieve meaningful business results. It must be embraced by all as an integral part of the business, and accountability must be held at all levels of an organization. Again, this is not easy. However, at Paul Hastings we have adopted the perspective that diversity and inclusion must be aligned with our firm’s business and objectives. It has to be part of our overall plan, and everyone is accountable.
At our firm, we don’t pretend to have all the answers. So we’re partnering with clients, law schools, and diversity groups, and producing reports like this one to spur dialogue that will help us tackle this issue together. We also look for new ways to provide space for our people to express their viewpoints, have more robust conversations, and feel comfortable exchanging differing perspectives.
As the general counsels profiled in our report agree, now is the time for action – to spark new ideas, set clear strategies, and work together to enact change. Diversity and inclusion must be viewed through a wider lens – as a continuous journey, rather than a specific target. This requires commitment, vigilance, and constant reassessment. And most of all, it requires the involvement of all of us.
Seth Zachary, Chairman, Paul Hastings