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. Perkins Coie Offers Discount to Female-Run Startups

The American Lawyer, 3/23/16

Le[a]dbetter, a new program from LCLD Member firm Perkins Coie LLP, provides startups led by women with a 15 percent discount on legal services, educational seminars, and networking opportunities. The program is designed to help combat the gender inequality among startups; in 2014, just 2.7 percent of venture capital-funded companies had female CEOs. “Industry observers said Perkins Coie’s initiative may also help retain female attorneys and bulk up their client roster once they're partners.” 

2. Firms Promote More Corporate Lawyers, Women to Partner

New York Law Journal, 3/21/16

A survey of the top 25 New York law firms found that 32.3 percent of the new partner classes were women, up from about 24 percent last year. LCLD Member firms Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Latham & Watkins LLP topped the list with the most new women partners. The survey also found that more than half of the partnership classes weighted toward corporate practice areas, and that the 2007 financial crisis did not impact the associates’ chances of promotion to partnership. 

3. LGBT Activists Win in States Like Georgia: Emphasize Economics, Not Just Equality

The Washington Post, 3/28/16

Corporate support of the LGBT community played a key role in the Georgia governor’s decision to veto a bill that would allow religious groups to deny service to the LGBT community. Georgia Prospers, a coalition of Georgia businesses that supports inclusion and includes many LCLD Member organizations, was especially influential.

However, in North Carolina, the General Assembly overturned an ordinance that barred LGBT discrimination and supported the creating of transgender-accessible bathrooms. Corporations also spoke out against this bill, including LCLD Member organization IBM Corporation

4. Professional Development: A Key Element of Law Firm Culture

New York Law Journal, 3/21/16

Almost half of employees say professional development is key to job satisfaction; for millennials in particular, personal learning and development is their top benefit. Successful professional development also promotes retention and in turn a positive workplace culture. For law firms, this means ingraining development in the firm culture, paying close attention to a variety of leadership opportunities, providing distinct development opportunities for partners and associates, and soliciting feedback to help shape the future of the programs.  

5. Why the Gender Leadership Gap is So Much Worse for Women of Color

FastCompany, 3/30/16

“Women’s representation in leadership will not increase substantially without major changes in the culture, policies, and practices of the organizations where women learn and work,” according to a recent report from the American Association of University Women. The authors say no amount of “leaning in” can overcome the systemic challenges of negative stereotyping, unconscious bias, and the resulting hostile work environments. Women of color face the added challenge of racial stereotypes; black women make up just 2 percent of executives, with Hispanic and Asian-American women at 1 percent, and women of other or multiple races at less than 1 percent.