Diversity in the workplace is almost always good for employee productivity, and this is especially true when it comes to law firms, which are tasked with arguing for a client. Importantly, law firms should have diversity in the types of people working for them. Law firms do better when their partners include LGBT+ employees, African American or alternative race identifying employees, and both sexes. However, diversity of thought is just as important as diversity of physical traits. Diversity of thought refers to the concept of having a broad base of different thinking processes within a group.
Diversity in England’s Law Firms
Law firms in England cannot compete with law firms in the USA based on salary anymore. As such, they are turning toward their diversity policies to draw in graduates. When compared with law firms from other countries, England’s law firms are on top in regard to being friendly toward LGBT+ employees, and they are quickly catching up in diversity in other areas, such as gender and race.
Despite this, England’s law firms are still somewhat devoid of diversity. The educational background that law firms look for in candidates is highly biased toward traditional routes from private schools. There is also a large bias in age. Most new employees are in their mid-twenties, and many retire around 65. Very few firms hire those older than this. Additionally, law firms in England seem to lack lawyers who have disabilities. These biases leave much to be desired in diversity of thought.
Filling the Quota
The lack of diversity of thought is not just a problem known to England, but it provides an excellent example. Diversity policies often come with either written or understood quotas that are relatively easy to fill. LGBT+, women, or African American candidates are much more drawn to a firm that touts its diversity, which then helps the firm reach the diversity quota. Diversity is a great way to bring in potential candidates.
Unfortunately, increasing diversity in sexual orientation, gender, and race simply will not bring an end to the diversity problem. It will ameliorate some of it, but it can still leave a firm open to missing obvious problems with a plan. Ultimately, the goal of increasing diversity should be to avoid this issue, and that can be done only with a group that is diverse in thought. Though it can help, filling the quota is not the easy fix most firms desire.
Knowing What Is Wanted
Simply seeking to increase diversity by hiring more women, racially diverse people, or LGBT+ members will not accomplish the ultimate goal of diversity, which is to avoid what is known as groupthink. In some cases, hiring people from these backgrounds can bring new perspectives to the table and lead to deeper conversations that bring out flaws in the original plan, but this becomes less likely as diversity quotas lead to hiring many like-minded individuals.
Law firms should hire people who are diverse in thought. This includes hiring people of all ages, even those well past 65, and people who come from varying educational and professional backgrounds. Differences in opinion should also be taken into account when hiring so that thought diversity can be maximized. Increasing this sort of diversity is much more likely to yield disagreements that improve the ultimate decision.
Diversity in a law firm is vital to keeping it as honest as possible. While it is important to increase diversity in observable demographic features, it is not enough. Firms must consider diversity of thought. Without doing this, they risk falling victim to blind agreement and fallible decisions.
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