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. Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Announces Record-Setting Class of Fellows

BusinessWire, 3/2/16

A record number of attorneys have been tapped for the 2016 class of LCLD Fellows, which launched in Austin last week. “There are now 1,027 Fellows in this ground-breaking program, and each one of them benefits tremendously from this career development initiative,” said LCLD Board Chair Brad Smith. The 2015 class of Fellows also completed its program year last, rounding out the fifth year of the Fellows program. 

2. Black History Month 2016: How Far Have We Come?

Chambers Diversity, 2/29/16

LCLD Fellows S. Jeanine Conley and Laura Wilkinson reflect on the importance of Black History Month and what it means for the legal profession. Despite the progress made in certain areas, black lawyers still face many challenges. “There was a point when there seemed to be more buy-in and people recognized that unconscious bias exists,” Conley said. “People seemed to be starting to understand that legal entities are better, particularly with regard to the law, when there’s an array of different opinions coming to the table. We seem to have lost that.” Wilkinson says unconscious bias training, mentoring, and sponsorship, particularly “across differences,” is crucial for creating a more inclusive profession.

3. Why Companies That Take Pride in Diversity Programs Still Wind Up Hiring White Guys

Quartz, 3/6/16

Despite nationwide efforts to create more diverse workforces, the number of women and minorities in fields like technology and the law and in leadership positions remain low. Researchers suggest that a phenomenon called “moral licensing” may be at play. For example, companies may feel that creating a diverse slate of candidates for a job is enough, and fail to address unconscious bias in the rest of the hiring process. Similarly, putting a woman or a minority in a lower-level leadership position can make leaders feel like it’s unnecessary to put a more diverse candidate in a top-tier position. The authors suggest a “comply-or-explain” policy, in which companies are required to justify why they failed to meet diversity quotas, can help by making diversity the socially-acceptable norm. 

4. To Understand Your Company’s Gender Imbalance, Make a Graph

Harvard Business Review, 3/8/16

“The case for the bottom-line benefits of gender balance keeps getting made… Now we need more accurate analyses of what is going on,” writes Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, CEO of gender consulting firm 20-first. Looking at the data can help companies identify where their gender imbalance lies: in recruitment, retention, or promotion. “The crux for most companies now is managing the middle and addressing retention and promotion issues there,” Wittenberg-Cox says. “They are not clear about their own very direct role in shifting their ratios: the culture they create and perpetuate and the self-replicating models of leadership they promote.”