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.

If you have questions about the Digest, or articles you'd like to share, please email Caitlin Puffenberger at

This week, in news related to diversity and inclusion...

1. How to Turn Your Firm Into An LGBT Diversity Success Story

Law360, 6/12/15

Firms that fail to invest time and resources into supporting LGBT diversity risk being left behind. In order to recruit diverse talent, create an inclusive environment where diverse attorneys will want to work, make sure LGBT attorneys have access to a support network and mentors, and support their efforts in the community. LCLD Member firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, which has one of the highest numbers of LGBT attorneys, is recognized for initiatives that bring LGBT attorneys together with LGBT law students and that support the professional development of LGBT associates. 

2. The Capital of Diversity

Bloomberg BNA, 6/16/15

Big firms look not just at candidates’ merit, but their cultural capital and personal identity – and they “pay” associates in that capital as well, from training opportunities to mentorship. This capital perspective helps explain the under-representation of women and minority lawyers at the top, but can also be used to improve diversity. For example, diverse attorneys need access to senior partners not just as mentors, but through working together on quality assignments. 

3. Rachel Dolezal, Ex-N.A.A.C.P. Official, Breaks Her Silence

The New York Times, 6/16/15

A former N.A.A.C.P. official stepped down this week after being accused of misrepresenting her racial background. Rachel Dolezal comes from a white family, yet says she identifies as black; throughout her career as an artist and civil rights activist, she has claimed to be African American. The news has sparked a discussion on race and identity, with many accusing her of deception, cultural misappropriation, and even blackface. “She engaged in a superficial deployment of blackness, but her choice does not legitimate her anemic hold on a social construct neither assigned to nor actually experienced by her before her lies began,” law professor Osamudia James wrote. Others argue that since race is a cultural construct, and not biological, she should be free to identify as whatever she wants, and her work in the African American community should not be disregarded

4. Overcoming the Confidence Gap for Women

The New York Times, 6/12/15

Women rated better than men on 12 out of 16 leadership competencies in a recent study of male and female leaders. These included “takes initiative,” “drives for results,” “motivates and inspires others,” and “builds relationships” – many of which are becoming increasingly valuable in in a highly networked, interdependent global economy. Yet women represent less than 5 percent of chief executives of top companies, about 15 percent of senior executives, and 20 percent of law firm partners. Solutions include leadership training, female mentors, and more flexible, sustainable work environments.  

5. Multiracial in America

Pew Research Center, 6/11/15

With the rise of interracial couples, combined with a more accepting society, America’s multiracial population has grown at three times the rate of the general population since the beginning of the millennium.

  • About two percent of American adults identify as multiracial, and almost seven percent (17 million) could be considered multiracial based on their backgrounds.
  • About 60 percent of multiracial adults are proud of their background.
  • About 60 percent say their racial heritage has made them more open to other cultures, and 55 percent say it has made them more understanding of people with different backgrounds. 

6. Women on Boards: Slow Progress and Marginalization, Study Shows

Forbes, 6/11/15

Quotas work to increase female representation on boards, but not to get women into top jobs, according to a report on gender diversity on corporate boards around the world. The report analyzed female board representation at 6,000 companies in 49 countries.

  • Women hold 12 percent of board seats worldwide. The percentage is the same in the U.S.
  • Woman chair just 4 percent of companies worldwide, and 3.4 percent of companies in the U.S.
  • Norway has one of the most stringent quotas and is the international leader with 36.7 percent of board seats held by women. Yet only 18.2 percent of Norwegian boards have women as chair.

7. Interactive Chart: Law Firm Diversity Remains Elusive

The American Lawyer, 6/9/15

This interactive chart breaks down the findings of The American Lawyer’s 2015 Diversity Scorecard, showing the number of minorities and non-minorities at more than 200 firms. The chart shows the number of minorities overall, but also breaks them down by associate, equity partners, and non-equity partners. Non-minority representation is overwhelmingly prevalent across the board (they are 85 percent of all lawyers) and only increases with partner status.