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

1. The Valley Pushes for Diversity…on the Street

Boomberg, 2/18/16

LCLD Member corporations Intel and Microsoft are among tech companies making concentrated efforts to work with minority- and women-owned financial firms. The initiative promotes diversity in two white male-dominated industries. In 2015, firms owned by women, minorities, or veterans played a role in 11 of 14 debt deals issued by the two dozen largest tech companies, underwriting between 1 and 6 percent each. 

2. White Partner, Black Associate: How They Made Mentoring Meaningful

The National Law Journal, 2/15/16

A white senior partner and a black associate at the Minneapolis office of Robins Kaplan LLP discuss the benefits of their mentoring relationship. “Mentors constitute a vital avenue through which large law firms can increase the retention and advancement of minority attorneys,” they write. “It is not right – nor realistic – to expect the relatively small number of minority partners to fill the mentor role for all minority associates.” The senior partner, Terry Wade, says discussing race in conjunction with the practice of law has been a hallmark of their relationship from which he has greatly benefited. The associate, Brandon Vaughn, writes about the importance of Terry’s feedback as well as his “willingness to recognize we had differences and to act as a resource.” 

3. The Biases That Punish Racially Diverse Teams

Harvard Business Review, 2/22/16

There is much evidence that diverse groups work harder, perform better, and make better decisions. Yet biases often keep people from recognizing these benefits. In a recent study, diverse groups were perceived as having more conflict than homogenous groups – despite the fact that all groups read from the same script. The authors suggest combating these biases by cultivating awareness among those evaluating diverse teams – for example, realizing that conflict in a diverse group is often just the result of “differing information, perspectives, and worldviews being worked through to allow innovation, better problem solving, and accurate decisions to emerge.” 

4. Female Coders Are “More Competent” Than Males, According to a New Study

MIT Technology Review, 2/12/16

A recent analysis of computer code submitted to GitHub found that women who used gender-neutral profiles had a 78.6 percent acceptance rate, higher than their male peers. But when women identified their gender, the approval rate dropped to 62.5 percent. The authors of the study call for a reexamination of “the frequent refrain that open source is a pure meritocracy,” since evidence suggests that bias against women exists.

5. Black History Month – Retire or Reboot?

The Atlantic, 2/22/16

Black History Month was first celebrated in 1976, with the goal of raising awareness of, and pride in, African-American history and culture. Today, critics wonder if “it is detrimental in the long term to pigeonhole black history into a month-long observance.” According to the NAACP, even the founder of Black History Month envisioned a time when schools and other organizations would make a point of discussing race year-round. One racial-justice advocate offers an alternative solution: “If there is a concerted effort to approach Black History Month in new ways each year, then we can combat some of the issues of only highlighting certain movements, figures, and events.”