A group of people stand in a circle and stack their hands. The picture is taken from below the stack, so you can see their smiling faces and the flare of the sun.

07 Feb Why Celebrating Diversity Should Always Be Considered a “Win-Win” for Any Firm!

Happy Black History Month from Helmers + Associates!

As we move into the first full week of February, Helmers + Associates must take time to recognize our unwavering commitment to diversity during Black History Month.

The dynamic and significant contributions of African Americans will forever be woven into the fabric of this country, and at Helmers + Associates, we celebrate the history, the sacrifices, and the courageous work of African Americans every day.

As we do this, we would also like to shed light on the importance of embracing diversity and inclusion strategies within law firms. Diversity and inclusion are the pillars of what makes a successful business, organization, company, or corporation. People from diverse backgrounds can offer varying perspectives and contributions based on their unique personal experiences and from this, everyone benefits.

The conversation surrounding diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) remains at the forefront within the legal industry, especially after recent social justice movements and landmark Supreme Court decisions. This is why celebrating diversity can and should always be considered a “win-win” for your firm!

An overwhelming number of studies continue to show that law firms with successful diversity strategies are more successful than their counterparts in terms of revenue, retention, and employee satisfaction. Specifically, in its May 2020 report, “Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters,” McKinsey and Company [1] reaffirmed a strong business case for both gender diversity and ethnic and cultural diversity in corporate leadership and argued that the most diverse companies were then, more likely than ever, to outperform less diverse peers on profitability. Not only are firms starting to recognize the value of diversity, but clients are starting to require it.

An increased number of larger corporate clients are beginning to not only probe but also request that diversity numbers for representation amongst employees and/or third-party vendors and suppliers be at a certain threshold within firms. The current climate is that it matters what you say, what you do, and how you do it. Clients that are doing business with firms are concerned and interested now more than ever. They want to be associated with firms and businesses with values and mission statements that match their own core values.

There is now an expansion of certification programs such as the Mansfield Rule, created by The Diversity Lab [2], that measures whether law firms have affirmatively considered at least 30% women, lawyers of color, LGBTQ+ lawyers, and lawyers with disabilities for leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, formal client pitch opportunities, and senior lateral positions. The goal of the Mansfield Rule is to boost the representation of diverse lawyers in law firm leadership by broadening the pool of candidates considered for these opportunities. The Rule’s elements and operations are grounded in behavioral science research, including the 30% requirement, which researchers have found [3] is the critical mass necessary to disrupt biases. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t any more work to be done. Especially now more than ever as some are referring to this point in history as the death of diversity and affirmative action [4].

On June 29, 2023, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled and issued a decision addressing the legality of race-conscious affirmative action in college admissions programs in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College [5]. Essentially, with this ruling, many believe that the foundational principles of diversity have come under attack. However, if we truly continue to understand the founding principles of diversity and the significance of inclusion, then we must press forward despite this ruling. As Michael Bloomberg contends in an opinion piece written in June of 2023 [6], the Court’s decision cannot be an excuse for regression. It must instead, he continues, “be a rallying point,” and this author wholeheartedly agrees.  

The advantages of embracing and celebrating diversity within the legal industry are incalculable. These benefits include:

  • enhanced client satisfaction,
  • greater mobility within firms,
  • expanded access to mentorship programs, 
  • reduced group thinking,
  • heightened employee satisfaction,
  • increased creativity, and
  • improved productivity and profitability.

Considering these factors, it becomes evident why the cases for attaining success and WINNING through diversity persistently evolve.

Happy Black History Month from Helmers + Associates. For more information on the celebration of Black History Month and the lives, stories, and impacts made by African Americans read more at the Smithsonian’s National Museum for African American Heritage by clicking here or in the footnotes [7] below.

By JaNae Martin
  1. McKinsey and Company: Diversity Wins, How Inclusion Matters. May 2020. Retrieved February 3, 2024 from https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/featured%20insights/diversity%20and%20inclusion/diversity%20wins%20how%20inclusion%20matters/diversity-wins-how-inclusion-matters-vf.pdf. ↩︎
  2. The Diversity Lab: https://www.diversitylab.com/pilot-projects/mansfield-overview/ ↩︎
  3. Research on The Mansfield Rule: https://hbr.org/2016/04/if-theres-only-one-woman-in-your-candidate-pool-theres-statistically-no-chance-shell-be-hired ↩︎
  4. Death of diversity and affirmative action: See Jelani Cobb, The End of Affirmative Action.  The New Yorker. Published in the print edition of the July 10 & 17, 2023, issue, with the headline “After Affirmative Action.” July 29, 2023. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2023/07/10 ↩︎
  5.  Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/22pdf/20-1199_hgdj.pdf ↩︎
  6. Bloomberg opinion piece: https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2023-06-29/supreme-court-affirmative-action-ruling-isn-t-end-of-diversity ↩︎
  7. National Museum for African American Heritage: https://nmaahc.si.edu/explore/initiatives/black-history-month-2024 ↩︎