27 May 2021

Diversity Labs launches initiative to help in-house teams track law firm diversity

US corporates including Gap and HP have signed up to the programme

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Gap, Hewlett-Packard and US Bank are among 15 US corporate legal departments that have signed up to a new Diversity Lab initiative to hold law firms accountable for increasing the diversity of their teams working on matters.

The Move the Needle Fund Diversity Dividends Collective aims to simplify the diversity data collection process for in-house teams and their law firms while also setting out goals to boost the diversity of external counsel teams. 

To help achieve that, the initiative has set out five core metrics that best measure how firms are progressing – known as the Diversity Dividends 5x5 Matrix. Those include ensuring the overall makeup of teams include women lawyers, underrepresented racial and ethnic lawyers, lawyers with disabilities and LGBTQ+ lawyers. Firms will also be judged by the representation of lawyers that receive financial credit or rewards for working on the legal department’s matters and the representation of lawyers that either lead the client relationship or lead individual matters. Participating legal departments can access a dashboard that tracks how their firms are performing against the five metrics.

Leila Hock, Diversity Lab’s director of legal department partnerships and inclusion initiatives, said: “The Diversity Dividends Collective 5x5 Matrix is specifically designed to address the power and economic gap in law firms where years of pledges, calls-to-action and letters signed by general counsel without financial incentives have fallen short. By bringing dozens of legal departments together to work in unison, we can drive change farther and faster.”

Other departments that have signed up to the project include Arrow Electronics, Con Edison, Hillrom, Moffitt Cancer Center, PNC Bank, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Sunrun, SurveyMonkey and Xcel Energy.

Chip Fletcher, vice president and deputy general counsel at Moffitt Cancer Center, said: “Creating an inclusive culture is a core value of our entire organisation. Joining the Diversity Dividends Collective was an easy choice. Beyond making it simple for our team to implement an effective programme to evaluate the diversity of our outside counsel teams, joining a growing collective of legal departments committed to driving progress on the same metrics allows our actions to have an exponential impact.”

Finnish telecoms multinational Nokia announced earlier this month that its legal team had launched an equity, inclusion and diversity scorecard system to assess its panel law firms. Eversheds Sutherland, Roschier, Bird & Bird, Quinn Emanuel, McKool Smith and Alston & Bird are set to become the first group to take part, with Nokia scoring the firms quarterly and annually in order to determine whether they’ve taken steps to implement effective E, I&D strategies. 

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