The Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession (IILP) recently published a report, titled The Business Case for Diversity: Reality or Wishful Thinking?, that has the legal community talking. IILP formed a partnership with the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) to gather data on the three primary stakeholders in diversity initiatives: corporate clients, law firms, and diverse partners. Specifically, they address the question of whether the business case for diversity is working. The report is regarded as a much needed shift away from the “anecdotal commentary on the subject” to hard data relative to the business case for diversity.
The report ultimately concludes that the business case for diversity is working but also cautions that there exist serious complications affecting the impact and effectiveness of the effort. For example, expectations differ dramatically from one group of stakeholders to the next, giving each group a unique set of problems to overcome. However, there is one hurdle that affects both corporate counsel and minority and women outside counsel alike: attorneys need to develop strategic connections within a company and have meaningful one-on-one interactions with them to forge relationships that could result in business opportunities. Many attorneys report that forming these relationships, or rather not forming them, is holding back progress of diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.
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