Compiled for the LCLD Board of Directors every Wednesday, this digest is designed to brief you on the latest headlines about LCLD Members and organizations, as well as thought-provoking articles on diversity in the legal profession, talent development, mentoring, and leadership. Past issues of the Digest are also archived on the LCLD web site.

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1. 2016 Chambers Diversity Awards

Chambers Diversity, 6/16/16

Several Members of the LCLD community were recognized for their work to promote diversity in the profession with Chambers Diversity Awards. In particular, Karen Roberts, LCLD Member and Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., was recognized for her “Outstanding Contribution to Furthering the Advancement of Diversity in the Legal Profession.” Member organizations Greenberg Traurig, LLP and MassMutual Life Insurance Company received the top awards for furthering diversity and inclusion at a law firm and a company, respectively. 

2. Giving Back and Growing Stronger

Modern Counsel, July 2016

Travis Torrence, 2015 Fellow and Vice President of Legal for Jiffy Lube International, discussed his considerable community service work and what motivates him to give back. “I truly believe that the law is a noble profession, and we’re really fortunate to get to be a part of it,” Torrence said. “Since the beginning of time, lawyers have been seen as a force for good, and we need to continue that legacy. It’s incumbent on us to use our special skills and unique talents to shape society for the better.” Torrence is President Elect of Bo’s Place, a Member of the Executive Committee for the AIDS Foundation of Houston, and Past Chair of the Texas Minority Counsel Program. 

3. Facebook CEO Invests Millions in African Education Startup to Close Opportunity Gap

Inc., 6/16/16

Andela, a New York City-based startup, discovers talented software engineers in Africa, gives them additional training, and places them at companies like LCLD Member corporations Facebook Inc. and Microsoft Corp. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife recently donated $24 million to the company. “We live in a world where talent is evenly distributed, but opportunity is not,” Zuckerberg said. “Andela’s mission is to close that gap.”

Diverse teams are one and a half times as likely to receive perfect performance ratings and receive 25 percent more of corporate clients’ legal spending than homogenous teams, according to a report compiled by Acritas Research. The report also found differences in the buying behavior and compensation of male and female general counsel. The data was compiled from interviews with more than 20,000 law firm clients over the last decade. Despite this evidence that diverse teams are better for business, only 25 percent of legal teams are “very diverse.” 

5. Designing a Bias-Free Organization

Harvard Business Review, July 2016

Many organizations implement diversity training, but don’t evaluate their impact. Iris Bohnet, Director of the Women and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School, suggests offering training to a random group of employees and comparing it to a control group to assess the effectiveness. Combined with data on the actual diversity or the organization, this can be used to target more specific problems. The second step is to create checks and balances for our naturally biased minds. “Those unstructured interviews where managers think they’re getting a feel for a candidate’s fit or potential are basically a waste of time,” says Bohnet. “Use structured interviews where every candidate gets the same questions in the same order, and score their answers in order in real time.” This combination of awareness building at the individual and organizational levels may begin to remove bias from our workplaces. 

6. Pledge to Name More Women as Arbitrators Reaches U.S. Firms, 6/21/16

“Count international arbitrator appointments as another position in the law where women are dismally represented, in some cases, less so than law firm partnerships and the judiciary. But a pledge aiming to increase the number of women arbitrators has gained the support of hundreds of individuals and organizations worldwide.” The Equal Representation in Arbitration Pledge now has more than 1,000 signatories, and includes commitments to include women on lists of recommended arbitrators provided to clients, mentor/sponsor women to pursue arbitrator appointments, and make gender statistics publicly available. You can take the pledge here

7. White Female Privilege

The American Lawyer, 6/13/16

A study of Baby Boomer women, with data collected from 1982 to 2010, found that women born into comfortable circumstances, who are not forced to be the primary breadwinner, have the best shot at career success. “White, well-educated women were more likely to enter, leave, then re-enter the workforce than were women of color or their less-educated white peers,” the study showed. Better parental leave, paid sick leave, and subsidized childcare are among the changes necessary to create a system in which underprivileged women have access to better career paths.