FacultyFaculty/Author Profile

Looking Forward: Emerging Trends and the Impact of Changing Demographics on Diversity and Inclusion Efforts in Law Offices       


DEBBIE EPSTEIN HENRY: Welcome, everyone. My name is Debbie Epstein Henry. I am the founder of DEH Consulting, Speaking, and Writing, as well as the co-founder of Bliss Lawyers. We are going to be talking over the next hour with this distinguished panel. I've been asked to start with some opening remarks about the subject of cultivating the evolving legal talent pool. So I'll start with that and then I'll turn it over to the panel. And we'll have a moderated discussion on those and related subjects.

So what I want to say is that 20 years ago when I started observing the legal talent pool, it was very different in terms of who wanted a linear career path. The path for lawyers was generally very traditional and unforgiving and very linear. And then there was this small pocket of stigmatized working moms who were looking to work differently. What's interesting is that small pocket of working moms, they were really the canaries in the coal mine. And in 2008, when the market crashed, everything changed. And suddenly, there were a lot of lawyers who were suddenly in transition and surprised to be there. But there were a number of other shifts that were going on that was really making the talent pool look differently.

There was the fact that clients started realizing that they needed and wanted things differently. They were looking for disaggregated work. And they were looking for lawyers to work differently. But also, there were other market drivers, including the fact that technology was enabling us to work differently, and most significantly were the millennials. This was mentioned in the prior panel. But the Millennials were looking to work differently. This is the largest demographic and employee group ever-- 80 million in number. And they were looking to work differently.

This is the first generation raised on technology. But they were also the most diverse adult generation ever in the workplace, with 44% minorities in the millennial generation. So the composition of this evolving legal talent pool changed. So it was still working moms who were looking to work differently, mostly less linear career paths because of parenting. But we had men who were joining that mix. We had the millennials, as I talked about. But they were looking also for less longevity in their careers often than their predecessors.

We have baby boomers who are looking to phase into retirement, maybe over a period of five or 10 years, and also design their careers differently. And then we also had more lawyer entrepreneurs, those who had experienced the market volatility who maybe had less risk aversion than they had previously. And we also had lawyers who were receptive to other ways to use their careers because practicing law was not necessarily the most opportunity for growth in their careers.

So the question is, this market has really changed. The talent pool has really changed over the past 20 years. And the problem is, is that our workplaces are not really cultivating that talent pool as they should. So the question is, how do you cultivate a diverse talent pool that's evolving that's very different than the one we looked at 20 years ago? I want to share 10 very brief ideas about how to do that. And hopefully, we'll have the chance to explore those ideas during the rest of today's panel, the following conversation, and at our cocktail reception and otherwise.

Number one, create a transparent work environment. And in saying this, I want to just share a very brief story along these lines. Years ago, I was at a conference with one of the top HR people from Twitter. And she shared this story that she was doing an annual review of a millennial who had been at the company for about a year, this woman who was very excited about the opportunity. And she got her favorable review and then was asked to give feedback.

And what she said was, Twitter's an amazing company. I love being at such an innovative place. My colleagues are so dynamic. This is such an amazing place to grow. I definitely could see being here for at least another three to nine months.


So creating a transparent work environment where we can cultivate this talent pool is going to be really challenging. But at first, if I were running Twitter, I would want to say and know that she was only staying there for another three to nine months. How can I use her best during that period of time?

Second, linking market need with social purpose-- what I mean by this is while we in this room really support diversity and we believe it's the right thing to do, unfortunately, not everybody is on board with us. So the idea of linking market need with social purpose is critical. In owning Bliss Lawyers, I see this every day, because it's not that legal employers have suddenly gone squishy. It's that they see the advantage of hiring temporary talent. And they see the cost effectiveness of that. And suddenly, they're now supporting lawyers in transition as they historically had declined them.

Third is recruiting differently. And you know about going to a broader pool of law schools. You know about engaging diverse talent and their networks to be ambassadors for recruitment. But also, looking at predictors for success in the workplace, like Angela said, is critical, and also doing things to really make the recruitment process look different-- redacting resumes doing pre-screens by phone, diversifying the interviewers, not just the applicants. These are all things that will make a difference in terms of recruiting.

Four, understand why lawyers leave. For example, women lawyers are twice as likely to leave law firms. If we don't understand why they're leaving and why diverse talent is leaving, how can we cultivate them to stay? So understanding it's not in the case of women just about work-life issues. The research shows that it's really so much is that they're not engaged in the workplace. So why would they want to stay?

Five, retain and promote differently. What I've found in my research-- and I ran for a decade with working mother study and competition called Best Law Firms for Women-- is that we really need to look at how to retain and promote differently. So we need to look not just at work-life issues in the case of women, we need to look at promotion differently. We need to look how to lead differently. We need to look at compensation and business development practices and sponsorship.

Six, bringing accountability and eliminating bias in the evaluation and the promotion processes-- this is everything from monitoring assignments and assessing and tracking assignments and how people are staffed on matters to unconscious bias training and clearly articulating competencies and expectations. Seven, developing a robust leadership pipeline-- what this means is changing the profile of what leaders look like and being able to cultivate and develop diverse leaders who look differently than their predecessors. And those are mostly, of course, the baby boomers. Eight, bring parity to the business development processes and compensation processes-- what this means is really looking at the processes that are going on, particularly in this case in law firms, and bringing more transparency to the pitch, origination, credit, compensation, and succession plans. If we don't understand how these processes are working and why women and diverse individuals historically have not performed as well under those processes, we're never going to make change.

Nine, commit power brokers to sponsor high potential diverse lawyers. Men are 46% more likely to have sponsors in their workplaces. Whites are 63% more likely to have sponsors in their workplaces. So we need to cultivate high-potential women and people of color for sponsorship relationships so they're invested in their organizations and they're more likely to stay. And 10, we need to develop work-life solutions in policy and practice. We want to focus on work-life issues for men and women, for reasons in addition to parenting, so making those work-life policies gender-neutral as well as reason-neutral and not just focused on the family and really looking at work-life policies over the course of the career.

So with that, I want to take a deep breath and pause and now turn to my panel and really start with that litany that I just walked through about diverse talent and really how to cultivate the legal talent pool that's evolving differently. We're going to do something different than the prior panel. Instead of reading introductions, I'm going to have each of the panelists say their name and affiliation, just a few sentences about their background in answering our first question. Because we're so time-pressed, I want to get right into the subject and ask each of you, how do you see these lawyers' changes in the lawyer demographics really impacting talent development for diverse lawyers? And what do diverse lawyers really want? And I'm going to start with you, Diane.

DIANE T. ASHLEY: [INAUDIBLE] Thank you very much. Good afternoon, everyone. I am happy to be coming from not a law firm. And I wanted to ask, how many of you are from government entities? OK. We have a lot. That's great. So you can probably understand my wonderful challenge, sitting on this panel of distinguished lawyers. And my challenge today is really, how do you take the two issues? How do you take the governmental diversity inclusion challenge and the legal challenge? And do they merge?

And I would contend to argue that yes, they do. And I'll tell you why. Because I think when you think about what lawyers are charged with is, it's building a case. It's understanding the pros and cons. And that's not too different than what we do with the Federal Reserve. I came aboard in 2007. I've been working in diversity inclusion in this space for probably 25 or so years. Part of my background has included workforce diversity, supplier diversity, and most recently, working in the culture and outreach and education side. We do work very closely, Debbie, with our legal firm, our legal arm in the bank.

But I think a lot of it has to do with what do you look at when you go to your respective firms? And one of the things that I remember being asked to come upon this panel and ask and seek and talk about was the whole issue of taking a look at your culture and taking a look at where you are right now. And what do I mean by that? I mean having worked for 12 years as an executive search consultant, one of the things that you have to do as a search consultant is be very good at it. And those of you who are recruiters, I hope you'll agree with me.

We used to say, when you're a search consultant, you get one wrong candidate-- that's it-- on the panel, right? Oh, heads nodding, yeah. That means basically, your client will forgive you for one candidate that doesn't match the specs that you need. But after that, anything more than one and your credibility is blown.

So what I became very skilled at is going into a culture and understanding it very deeply very quickly, because you couldn't be wrong in terms of the candidates that you put in. And I have to say honestly, I've been at the Fed since 2007. I came in under a different era, reporting in the days of Tim Geithner, not understanding what was going to be on the horizon in a year. And my mandate was actually to create the first Office of Diversity and Inclusion within the Federal Reserve System. So there was really no precedent in the Federal Reserve System of office of diversity inclusion. There had been, I would say in fairness to my predecessors, there had been efforts that had been previous. But they had been primarily on the recruitment side and for junior people.

So the challenge then became, how do you create an environment where people want to be interested, where people want to be participants, where people want to be part of the solution? And that has been a challenge that I've had over the last 10 and a half years. In terms of the thought about legal entities, the other issue that I think that is really of interest and particularly important for our organization has been the role of legal. Because with the crisis taking place in 2008, legal was at the table. Legal was at the table with Tim. Legal was at that table will all of our senior managers.

And I have to tell you, as someone who had the privilege of sitting in and watching the inside of the crisis from the inside out-- during the break, we can talk about how correct some of the movies that you've seen and books that you've seen have been. But I will say simply that part of what we had to do was-- to your point about talent again-- this is an evolving process, right? Diversity inclusion, by the way, my role and how I see it is as a journey. It is not a destination. You don't start here. And hopefully, you'll finish there. I've been doing it for over 25 years. Guess what? We're still not there. And even in best practice organizations in DiversityInc magazine's top 50, they are not best practice people either. So my point is that we, in our organization, had to really start to shift even our thought about legal talent, bringing in people that had backgrounds that we'd never had before, recognizing that we can't do things the same way we've always done them before. So it's been a challenge.

DEBBIE EPSTEIN HENRY: So thank you. And I want to stick with this theme right now of developing legal talent and turned to you, Satra. You're looking at this in the context of previously being in corporate America and now being in a law firm. So could you talk a little bit about your background, and in doing so, also talk again about what diverse talent wants and how to cultivate that?

SATRA SAMPSON-AROKIUM: Hello, everyone. So I've spent 12 and a half years in corporate. I worked at Deloitte for the first half of my career and then decided to venture into the law firm world. And it was really a shocker. However, it's really different in certain aspects where-- and when I say different, I mean that law firms are really trying to get to where corporations are, where the clients are. And it's a challenge. But they're not giving up the fight.

In reference to talent development, it's not really a word that's heard in many law firms because law firms are broken up into different silos in terms of looking at your attorney population. So when you look at that, my firm has the pleasure of actually having a real talent development team. So as the director of diversity and inclusion at Dechert, I'm able to actually have a seat at the table, whether it's associate development, whether it's recruiting, and so forth. So I actually have a seat at the table. My voice is heard.

And in reference to diverse attorneys, they really just want to be heard, you know, really want an opportunity to develop into the best attorney that they can be. So it's really about giving them the opportunities, giving them the tools, the resources in order to develop into the best attorney. We do have a few initiatives that are on the way for diverse attorneys. For instance, our first and second your attorneys, we have a diverse associate summit for them, where they actually have access. And they gain access to our chairman and CEO. They also access to our partners and our clients.

So normally, they would not have the ability to speak with clients directly. We actually bring a panel of clients to have a discussion with our talent, to answer questions, to talk about the path to become a good attorney or to be the best that they can be, whether you stay within the law firm or you go out into the world and be in-house and so forth. So whatever your career path is-- because we all know that being a partner at a law firm is not for everyone-- but being able to say that I have provided the opportunity, I have provided the resources and the tools to develop a diverse attorney. So no matter where they go, they will never forget that. You've already laid that foundation.

DEBBIE EPSTEIN HENRY: Terrific. And I want to turn to Sandra now, who really is a thought leader in this space and in leading a think tank in this space. Could you talk again a little bit about your background, talk about cultivating diverse talent, but also if you would, move to some of the other hot topics and emerging trends that you see in the profession?

SANDRA S. YAMATE: Sure. Thanks, Debbie. My name is Sandra amount. I am the chief executive officer of a not-for-profit organization. It's called the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession. We've been in existence now for nine years. But we are probably still the newest, the youngest diversity organization in this arena that you'll find in the profession.

We came together because we were a bunch of lawyers who were getting really frustrated and tired of seeing diversity conference after diversity program after diversity initiative year after year where the topics were pretty much the same. The speakers might change. The names might change. But the fact is we weren't seeing a lot of movement. And we were getting a little frustrated and tired of that.

In the time that I've been involved working in diversity inclusion-- decades-- I've seen the whole notion of cultivating diverse talent change dramatically. And it really starts even when you're talking about who's actually doing it. When I got into this space, it was at a time when nobody was actually even focused on it. You sort of learn by doing. You liked being involved in minority bar associations. You liked the work. It seemed more fun and more gratifying than the actual legal work you were doing. And you could do that because there really wasn't any other resources for it. So it wasn't a question of having real training.

It's a lot more complex now. The people who are responsible for diversity and inclusion efforts and cultivating diverse talent need to come to the table-- and they are coming to the table-- with a lot more grounding and background and experience. It's a sad thing in some ways, because I do see a lot of young lawyers. I probably get two or three calls a week from young lawyers who tell me they want to do diversity. That's great. But a lot of times, they're so ill-prepared for it. And the reasons that they want to get into it, it's not so much they affirmatively want to do diversity as much as they really just want to escape from whatever their current practice setting may be.

DEBBIE EPSTEIN HENRY: Don't blow anyone's cover. None of us knew that.

SANDRA S. YAMATE: But part of the challenge for them really is that it's so complex. It's so nuanced. And with the increased emphasis that we're going to be seeing more and more of on intersectionality, especially with the millennial generation, it's not enough to say you're interested in diversity. But all you really kind of know is maybe your type of diversity. People who are trying to spearhead diversity inclusion efforts have to be prepared and willing to undertake the educational process, to know about lots of different kinds of diversity, regardless whether it directly impacts them or not. And that's been a huge shift that we've seen.

There's a lot of interesting new topics. Despite the fact that a lot of times in many traditional organizations, you do continue to see a lot of the same diversity inclusion topics being raised, it's new. And guess what? There really are some new hot trends and new ideas. In fact, sometimes it does seem like the profession goes through these periods of ebbs and flows, where there's a hot diversity inclusion topic. Everybody is doing it. We all get tired of it. And then we move on to the next thing.

Is there anybody here who hasn't gone through implicit bias training yet? I mean, we've been talking about that a long time. And before that, what was the hot topic? Pipeline-- everybody was talking about pipeline. And not that any of this is bad, but the fact is that after a while, it gets a little stale.

But what's coming up? Certainly in recent years, I am seeing a lot more emphasis on disability diversity, which is great. And, we're so lucky that we have some like Angela Winfield, who is just a phenomenal subject matter expert, in addition to the other kinds of law that she practices. We're seeing a lot more about intersectionality. It's really hot with the millennials.

It also generates some interesting pushback, and not from where you would traditionally expect. The pushback is coming a lot of times from the baby boomer generation that had people get into this whole diversity inclusion effort. And they knew their type of diversity. And they're not really very comfortable at having to get outside their particular nuanced focus on diversity.

And what do I mean by that? Some of the pushback comes in when let's say you're talking about gender diversity. And there are a lot of straight white women who are used to talking about it in the context of women's issues being equated with the issues of privileged, straight, white women. And now you have the millennials who don't want to just talk about in that context. They also want to bring in issues of women of color, issues of women who may be lesbians or trans women. There's a whole lot of difference there.

Or in the Asian-American community-- historically, we've often tended to look at things in terms of we talked about Asian-Pacific Americans, we meant people of East Asian ancestry. But you can't overlook what's going on with the Southeast Asians, the South Asians. And even though we keep saying Asian-Pacific American, we don't spend a lot of time focusing on the Pacific Islanders. So this whole notion about intersectionality I think is going to become increasingly in the forefront of what we're discussing.

Research has been really hot. Lots of people want to get into it. Lots of people are doing it. What's scary, though-- and I'm from an organization. We love research. We try to encourage people to do research. But the problem is if it's not done well, if it's done by well-intentioned people who really just don't understand what it is that they're doing, this is a problem. So I do think we need to be a little bit more sophisticated about how we approach it.

And at the same time, as comfortable as we are talking about inclusion and the need to make sure that we're recognizing lots of other kinds of diversity beyond just the traditional gender and race, we can't allow that to permit us to then ignore some of the ongoing changes. And that's why I think Macy Russell's earlier presentation was so key. Because the fact of the matter is as a profession, when it comes to African-Americans, we are facing a huge crisis, folks. And we need to make sure that we're not overlooking it in terms of, yes, we do want to embrace lots of different kinds of diversity because it does impact many, many people. But we can't allow that to be the excuse for ignoring ongoing challenges that are difficult. So I'll stop there.

DEBBIE EPSTEIN HENRY: I'm really glad you emphasized that. Because I've heard this discussion a lot around sort of this tension around wanting to be inclusive and feeling that there's power in numbers. And that's a really good thing. At the same time, there's this risk of dilution of the specific issues that each group is really struggling with and not to sort of gloss over those differences and really kind of lose the opportunities to identify them.

I want to turn back-- and thank you really for that context. It's enormously helpful. I want to turn back to each of the environments, Diane and Satra, in which you work. And if you could talk, Diane, about some of the challenges, D&I challenges and trends you're seeing in the Fed and in that space and really how to address them. And I'll turn to Satra next.

DIANE T. ASHLEY: So our D&I challenges are evolving. And I think they evolve with the world and with the political, geopolitical framework, with a world where cybersecurity becomes a real issue. We have a lot of very interesting and complex issues which arise. So one of the things that we have done-- and you were talking earlier about the need to recognize diversity inclusion-- is we've actually recreated and we refreshed our diversity strategy across four areas of focus. And we are really starting to spend a whole lot of time looking at the issues pertaining to cognitive diversity. So that is a whole school of thought where you talk about different thinking styles and how they influence how people's actions move.

So I think it's really kind of done a very good job of starting to bring people aboard who may have historically looked at diversity inclusion as basically a racial issue or a gender issue or an LGBT issue. This is really a type of diversity which looks at all aspects of diversity inclusion. So in other words-- and we just laughed about this the other day-- so we're thinking about from the standpoint, it permeates all of our business acts. So let's talk about it from a recruiting perspective.

We're recruiting for, let's say, a new set of economists, right? So we want to have-- now we've adopted a diverse panel policy and a diverse interviewer panel policy. Because research has shown if you have a diverse panel of candidates and you don't have a diverse interview panel of candidates, you may come up with the same result. So what we've done is we've said, OK, so it's not enough-- for example, if you're looking for women in the economics field, as you know, that's a field where you have very, very few women represented. The issue then becomes, what if we have a panel-- the question arose, what if we have a panel of six women who are from University of Michigan and all of the top schools in economics? Well, is that a diverse panel?

It's something that we are thinking about. Because we have to start to think about it in multiple dimensions. So we're looking at that.

We also, too, have been involved in the last several years-- to your point about implicit bias-- we've had Dr. Mahzarin Banaji to come in from Harvard. She's outstanding. I would recommend-- one of the ways that I got started at the Fed was to bring in outside world class speakers. And the reason why, as you know, you want to bring in someone who really knows what they're talking about. And they can come and address the questions.

The other person we've had come in-- we've had Dr. Scott Page from University of Michigan. He's the author of a book called The Difference. We've had Howard Ross come in. We've had Andreas Tapia, who is a Peruvian thought leader in this space. And we think he's been an outstanding person who can talk about the whole issue, which is something we're thinking about now, around cultural competency.

What is cultural competency? That's going back to the story about the hare. Well, that's going back to the fact that we have different ways that we do things. And it doesn't mean that one way is any lesser than the other. So it's something that I think we need to kind of be clued up to. Implicit bias is great. But I think we want to move from an implicit bias. And my goal down the next several years would be to go from implicit bias to what we call conscious inclusion. In other words, you're thinking about it, not from the standpoint of bias, which is a negative, to how can I think proactively about solving a problem?

Dr. Scott Page actually talks about it from the perspective of dealing with complex problems. He's an economist by training. I brought him to the bank, not because he was a D&I person, but because he was an economist. He can talk their language. And what he did through empirical modeling in his practice, in his book, is demonstrate that when you have a complex problem-- not a simple one-- when you have a complex problem, the best way to put together-- and you put together a group, a homogeneous group against a diverse group of thinkers. He didn't do it on a racial and gender purpose, but really more on the different thinking styles. They always come up with a more complex, maybe a more resourceful, maybe a more innovative solution.

So we're trying to move our organization in that direction. And like everything else when you're involved-- and I don't know how many of you are CDOs sitting out here, the Chief Diversity Officers. But it's organizational change in behavior. People don't do that easily or quickly. And so you have to really be mindful of that, that you have to bring people along. Because everyone is going to be at a different level.

DEBBIE EPSTEIN HENRY: Those are really great points. And I think this issue around bringing in somebody with credibility in an area that's valued by your organization and then also being able to use them to speak on D&I is very compelling because it's dealing with their own implicit biases in the room to be open to that. In addition to expanding beyond unconscious bias training and cultural competencies, I know in the work that I do with the New York City bar diversity committee, we've done programming on courageous conversations, which is another iteration of this that I think is really important to cover in this. So Satra, again from the law firm environment as well as your previous environment in corporate, can you talk about some of the emerging trends you're seeing and addressing there?

SATRA SAMPSON-AROKIUM: Absolutely. I smiled when I hear Andreas Tapia's name because he was one of the leaders of diversity best practice. So I worked with him on cultural competence at Deloitte. So it was great to hear he's still in the game.


And just to touch on what Diane just said in terms of the implicit bias, it's time to just stop talking about implicit bias and really start to have the real conversation about inclusive leadership. What does it mean to be an inclusive leader? What do I need to have to become inclusive leaders? How can we have our attorneys become inclusive leaders, our partners, our leaders of the firm to become inclusive leaders? So that's one of the new trends you see or you'll hear about, is moving away from just talking about implicit bias to actually grooming our partners to become inclusive leaders, to think about how to put teams together, to think about what does it mean to actually step out of that box and bring others to the party? And not just bring them to the party, as Verna Myers said, you can invite--

DEBBIE EPSTEIN HENRY: Invite them to dance.

SATRA SAMPSON-AROKIUM: --but invite me to dance, right? So it's about really, really not just talking the talk, but taking that walk and taking those hard lines and being uncomfortable. Because you'll never be comfortable in certain situations. But that's what diversity inclusion is, is really becoming uncomfortable in your situations and taking the path less traveled and doing unconventional things. So inclusive leadership is something that's coming up and the trend that we're seeing more and more in law firms that some corporations have already adopted and are really gaining strides in that.

Sponsorship-- law firms struggle with having a robust sponsorship program in place, right? Normally we know that getting a sponsor is an organic thing. But sometimes it may need to be forced. I do know at Deloitte, we had a high potential program where we actually assigned high potential diverse-- I want to say attorneys-- but diverse professionals to actual sponsors. So it's about cultivating that relationship. So sponsorship programs, it's something that law firms are looking at. And we are also looking at that and trying to help guide along our diverse associates. We're actually also asking our partners to take that step and to actually identify individuals that they would like to help cultivate and help develop.

The other thing that's a big difference in law firms and corporations is your affinity groups. When you look at the affinity groups, law firms focus on just your attorneys. We forget the rest of the population. But as I say to my team, it's a bus. The bus needs wheels. It needs a steering wheel. And it needs the wheels to go around. So we should not forget the other population. In corporations, affinity groups are for everyone. In law firms, it's about developing and cultivating your attorneys.

And while we strive and we do this well, we're trying to actually find conventional ways to open that up to include folks who are not of the affinity. And one of the things that I even say to my group is, why is it an affinity versus a resource group? Because we are providing resources to attorneys. We are providing the community for them to help build them up into the best attorneys that they could be. So there are others who can actually bring in other thought leadership, other best practices, other ideas in terms of how we can develop our attorneys to be better attorneys, right? And some of you may also have heard the other thing that's up and coming and hot which haven't hit the US yet, but the gender pay gap study in the UK.

DEBBIE EPSTEIN HENRY: The pay equity study?

SATRA SAMPSON-AROKIUM: Yes. So law firms are required now in the UK to disclose how much attorneys are being paid-- not partners, but the associates. [LAUGHS] However, yes, it's a study. There are discrepancies in the study because not everyone-- in the UK, it's a whole different way of how attorneys are developed and how they're paid and the schemes and all that good stuff. So that's something that's trending right now in the UK. It's something that we may see eventually come to the US in terms of the disclosure. We are actually going to see more about the gender pay gap.

So there are discussions that's going to-- it started with Lilly Ledbetter. So I'm sure it's going to continue. And then just really thinking about ways to monitor and measure-- and we'll get more details about them whole measurement later on-- but really taking an invested interest in what's happening to our attorneys and understand. And so that's something that I do underground at work, is understand where my attorneys are, how are they being given work? Are they busy? Are they not busy? What types of work are they working on? Because it could be anything.

So is the work that they're getting not really work to make it evolve into a better attorney? Are they really learning the critical skills that they need to actually get promoted or to move to the next level? So those are the things that we're looking at. And those are the things that are trending.

DEBBIE EPSTEIN HENRY: And I want to move towards those types of assessments now, because that last point you just made around utilization is really key, not just under-utilization but also who is getting disproportionate amount of non-bailable work and who's getting, like you said, really exposure to influential partners and clients. And all of that is really that access to work. And that opportunity is really at the core of developing, certainly in a the law firm context in particular. I want to move to Sandra and come back to you on this issue around assessments. What do you see as the best employer assessments out there to try to determine, whether it's in the audit space or really try to get at what's going on with respect to D&I at workplaces?

SANDRA S. YAMATE: It's actually a little bit of both. Certainly, it's beginning to-- see a trend where we're trying to shift away from always just tying diversity inclusion efforts to the big law model, which is all about business development. We've been doing it a long time. I don't think it's really served the profession well. In fact, I think it's responsible for a lot of the diversity inclusion challenges we are still facing. I think it's more important that we begin to take sort of a big picture approach. And I really like this emphasis on the notion of talent development. Because I do think that that's a healthier, more fulsome way of approaching it. And it doesn't limit to just one practice setting.

Within that, I think we're starting to see more employers adopting career progression assessments within their organizations to get a better sense about career satisfaction. We're starting to see greater emphasis on the use of performance reviews to measure not only how are you performing your actual work, but is the scope of the work that you are undertaking, does it have a diversity inclusion component to it? Should it? And if your organization thinks that it should, well, who should actually doing that? And what should they be doing? Is it sufficient that they go to some diversity inclusion CLE-type program? Or should they be doing something more?

So I feel like we're right at the cusp where we're starting to see more employers that are thinking about this in a more sophisticated manner. And they're trying new things. But we haven't seen an actual trend emerge.

DEBBIE EPSTEIN HENRY: And I want to move to some of those examples in the workplace, and Diane ask you, what have you seen as really the role of stakeholders in your organization? And particularly, how are you assessing the success of the strategic aspect of what you're trying to do and sort of the vision planning with respect to the stakeholders? What are they doing? And what is their role?

DIANE T. ASHLEY: Well, thank you. So looking at the role of stakeholders, I see that starting at the very top. Because you're not going to have any success in this world unless you have the top-down support, right? But you've got to kind of do it concurrently. I always tell people, you've got to have a top down, bottoms up-- got to have them going concurrently. Grass roots up, and you've got to have senior management down. Why do I say that? Because without those individuals working together, you can't have one or the other. It will not be successful.

And I would say in terms of our stakeholders right now, as I see it, include everybody in the bank. And the way we measure that is by our employee climate survey that we do every other year. We also do it by some very sophisticated psychometric assessments that are done with our senior management that's been going on for the last couple of years to kind of get an understanding about where they are, but always continuing-- and I would just recommend even as you're in law firms to remember that diversity inclusion is not simply a metrics game.

Diversity and inclusion has to always have both sides working at the same time. You've got to have the metrics, the quantitative. But you've always got to have the qualitative to look at as well. Because people have an experience with diversity and inclusion. And I think the extent to which you kind of remember that it's not just all cognitive, but there is a certain level of experiential which must be included in it. And I think the firms and the CEOs that I have seen around fortune companies who have been the most enthusiastic advocates for D&I have been those who have had some kind of experience, ideally firsthand experience, or through a family member, or through an opportunity for a job.

A person I always like to raise is Bob Moritz, who was CEO at one point for PwC. And he talks very candidly about early in his career, PwC sent him to Japan for two years to work. That experience, I think, was really a pivotal point for him because it demonstrated to him in a very tangible, firsthand way what it's like to be other. And so he has come back. And he is really one of the leading advocates from a CEO perspective on the experience and how it can feel to be other. And that really has driven him, and I think PwC, to one of the top firms in the country in terms of D&I.

So that is one area that we look at. The other thing that we do is we have 10 employee networks now-- you talk about affinity groups, Satra. We have 10 employee networks. Why is that important? Because they become your business partners. And so I would argue that not to call them affinity groups, because ours actually have business goals that they have to satisfy. They work alongside our businesses-- recruitment, professional development, community involvement. And the fourth tenant that they have to report on every year is innovation.

Why do I say innovation? Because you come to the table with your particular expertise. And all of our networks are open to everybody right now. We have every-- I'm very proud to say we have men in the women's group. We have straight allies in the LGBT group. We even have a group called the Night Light, which is for people that work third shift, the night shift. We have day people working in that. So it's a good thing. Because what it does is it fuels an opportunity for people to get to know each other in an intimate way and to really help to create business solutions.

So I'll give you a really couple good examples. We have a group that's called Fedability. And the groups have named themselves. That's our disabilities awareness group. Two years into it, we started noticing, one of the people in the Fedability group said, you have this beautiful auditorium where you do all your presentations, has a big, giant screen. And why are you not doing closed captioning? And we had no answer.

So we had to get it cleared. There's nothing easy done in the Fed. We had to get it cleared. But we actually really cleared that we now, whenever we have a program in the auditorium, we have closed captioning. And why is that? And I started looking around the room. And guess what? It was raised by a person who was hearing impaired. But at the end of the day, who else benefits?

We have 30 different nationalities of people for whom English is not the first language. Some people learn by hearing. Some people learn by hearing and seeing and reading. And so its very interesting that you have something that was raised by a person who may have had a disability or could be called a disability. And that impacted the bank in a very positive way.

The networks have also come up with mentoring programs. They've come up with-- there's a group that's called the Advanced Critical Thinking Group. And they actually are putting together scenario planning. They're coming with the Generation Network. We talk about millennials. That's primarily our generations group. They're coming up with mobile payment solutions because they grew up in the era of smartphones. So there's a lot of stuff that these particular groups can do. They can help your business.

DEBBIE EPSTEIN HENRY: So I want to ask Satra one more question. And then I want to open it up to the audience as well as-- the live as well as the webcast audience. Satra, just if you could just share a couple of brief best practices with respect to internal reviews and audits that you've seen in a law firm and/or corporate context? And then we'll open it up to one or two questions.

SATRA SAMPSON-AROKIUM: Absolutely. So one of the things that-- and with all due respect, some partners need to be told what to do for diversity.


SATRA SAMPSON-AROKIUM: Because they don't know. They may be thinking-- again, it's our unconscious bias, right? I play in terms of, well, didn't you know that? No, sometimes it's OK. It's fair to say that there are certain things that you don't know. So with our population and our partners, one of the things that we did to actually help out and to provide assistance with was to provide them with here are some of the things that you can be doing to help move diversity inclusion forward for the firm right?

We have a top-down and bottom-up approach. So we have the investment and commitment of our chairman, our CEO, our policy committee, which is our executive committee, and so forth. But it's what can our hundreds of partners across the country, across the world, can be doing to help affect change? So we've provided them with that.

Something else that we have that some law firms don't have, we have an upward review. So where our associates are actually reviewing our leadership, they're reviewing their partners. They're giving feedback. And we actually take this feedback. And we can now review it and actually see what changes are needed and so forth. So we can effect change that way.

The other thing that we've just recently done, we created a dashboard that's actually now able to monitor work assignments. It's a visual tool that we can have meetings with practice group leaders, the administrators, and actually show them not just demographic information but their diverse population, a report card on each individual in their group from a diversity perspective, what they're working on, the billable hours, the non-billable hours. So it's really a real visual tool that's pulling in information from so many different offices within a law firm in one place that they can actually see it.

And it's actually color-coded and colorful. I've made it colorful and color-coded. So you get the reaction of, oh, wow. And that's what you want to hear. You want to see and because it will help. And also, what we've also asked our practice group leaders to do is to assign a partner who is not diverse in their group to be the diversity partner. So now that partner now is responsible for the population, for the assignments, and so forth. So they are able to now look at that and then report back into me and to the diversity committee. So it's not just me trying to run around to make sure that everything is in sync and in par and that everyone is busy and assigned and being developed and being recognized. But we are actually putting the onus now on the individual practice groups to help us actually effect change within the firm.

DEBBIE EPSTEIN HENRY: I really like those suggestions. This notion of internal ambassadors for change, both diverse and non-diverse, I think, is really important. And it really is a way to sort of trickle down the message and infiltrate the message in the firm in a much more compelling way. I want to open up to questions, and both in the webcast and live, and if you just raise your hand. Hi. Go ahead.

AUDIENCE: Hi. This is a question for anyone on the panel. So I'm an attorney, but I work in an investment bank. And my entire career has been in an investment bank. And I've seen a lot talk about diversity. I've seen a lot of networks created, if you will. And I've seen different initiatives within, let's say, my firm and my previous firms on diversity. But I feel that-- and especially you mentioned the gender pay gap in the UK, the reports that were just published. That's really relevant to me, because I work in a British bank.


[INAUDIBLE] --which bank it was. The results were really shock-- I mean, I've always had a sense that there was a huge gender pay gap. But I didn't know for sure until I saw the numbers, that there was actual quantifiable data out to show that that's not just in my head. It's actually reality, at least in the UK-- maybe not in the US. I just wanted to know-- so I see a lot of talk. And I've seen a lot of-- I connect with a lot of people. But I haven't really seen a lot of movement. And maybe that's just me at the bottom, not at the top. From the bottom up, I don't see a lot of movement in terms of-- we talk a lot about diversity. We talk a lot about making things better within the firm and--

DEBBIE EPSTEIN HENRY: I think I got it. I want-- just for the benefit of the webcast, I just want to very briefly summarize that and just the question is from a woman who's in-house at a bank and has seen a lot of demonstrated efforts with respect to diversity but not a lot of implementation and action. And so the question is, what does action look like in the context of implementation successfully of diversity inclusion changes? Anybody can start with that.

SANDRA S. YAMATE: I'll start. You haven't seen a lot of change because there hasn't been any.


DEBBIE EPSTEIN HENRY: Better for that to come from Sandra than anybody else. Yeah.

SANDRA S. YAMATE: And while we can all laugh about it, I mean, that's the sad fact. Our profession spends a lot of time and resources addressing diversity inclusion. And we're not actually seeing a lot of outcome from it. The needle hasn't moved. Part of that is it's incumbent upon all of us to be maybe savvier and more critical consumers of diversity inclusion, that it's time for us to stop just assuming that because this, that, or the other diversity effort has been going on or because lots of other organizations in our arena have been doing that, that we should just automatically do it without any thought.

Because interesting, I think a lot of the most intuitive ideas about diversity inclusion may not necessarily be the ones that can actually have impact. And so what it comes down to is trying to think more critically about what our diversity inclusion objectives actually are. There is a huge effort, I think, to monetize diversity inclusion. And I get where that's coming from. But for me, coming from a not-for-profit, it troubles me when I see for-profit organizations. And I'm not talking about like diversity consultants, because I think they're pretty transparent about you're paying for their services. And that's fine.

But I do get concerned about organizations I see that masquerade as not-for-profits and that unsophisticated diversity consumers don't even realize that they're spending a lot of their very limited and restricted diversity inclusion resources supporting a for-profit enterprise that's not necessarily going to turn around and then give back, lend a hand back, help others. That's troubling. But that's something that we have to be a lot more attuned to.


DIANE T. ASHLEY: So I would just say that your comment is well-taken. And it's real. And I'll go back to something I said earlier, which is the CEO sets the tone at the top. Organizations that have moved the needle are those where the CEO is driving it. And he's also making sure that there is an accountability that's cascaded down.

DEBBIE EPSTEIN HENRY: He or she, right?

SANDRA S. YAMATE: He or she.

DIANE T. ASHLEY: Well, usually I would hope the shes would be on the program. You know what I'm saying? But you know, that could be. You're correct. But I think that that's actually where the difference is. And I think that if you look at organizations which are really leaders in this space, almost always, you will see that there is senior management which is really directing that. And they're holding people accountable. And they have things like dashboards which measure. You've got to have people accountable for making the transition. You're right. You can't just talk about it.

DEBBIE EPSTEIN HENRY: I want to take another question but just add that this point around consumer influence, I think, is really important to think about, as well as where we've seen success on other causes. So I think when you made that point about gun violence and how those companies stepped up and said, hey, I'm taking a stand on this. So there is a lot of influence that could be really imposed. And it's just a question of who's got the wherewithal and the confidence to do that and assert that. I think we have time for one more question. Satra, do you want to just add?

SATRA SAMPSON-AROKIUM: Can I just say one thing? So just to say one thing just to add to your question and to the comments that have already been said, when you also look at this, you think about we have moved the needle. However, every time you promote three women or four women and then you promote five white men, it's going to dilute your number again. Just think about it for a moment. Every time you may be saying you have 10. If there are five white men being promoted and four women or five and five, your numbers are absolutely going to be diluted. So you would probably have to say, I'm not going to promote any white men in order for you to really see some big changes. And I'm just keeping it real. I'm just keeping it real in terms of that.

DEBBIE EPSTEIN HENRY: I think that reasonable minds may differ on that. I think that there's a spectrum here. And I think that's probably another conversation we may not have time to really get into here.

DIANE T. ASHLEY: I would just say, though, on that point, I think it is a diversity recruitment challenge, right?


DIANE T. ASHLEY: And I think if you have industries or professions of which there is not large representation, what you've got to do is go to schools. You've got to nurture. You've got to start early to cultivate those candidates to come to the role. So you're right from the standpoint if you only have three economists or you only have four of this or five of that and they leave, you've significantly changed your percentage representation.


DIANE T. ASHLEY: But I think it also presents an opportunity for your senior managers and for your networks or for your employees to really think about, how can we broaden the pool of candidates that we're bringing to the table?

DEBBIE EPSTEIN HENRY: Absolutely. Absolutely.

SANDRA S. YAMATE: And it goes directly to the limitations of measurement and numbers and metrics. Because personally, I would rather see a really progressive, aggressive, straight, white man who's going to be a strong advocate for real meaningful diversity inclusion get a promotion than some other Asian-American woman who is just about herself and doesn't really care about helping anybody else. So--

DEBBIE EPSTEIN HENRY: One more question right there, yes-- and just really brief. I'm sorry. We're short on time.

AUDIENCE: Coming back to the point on accountability, have you seen any initiatives or programs where we are tying D&I performance to comp in terms of executives or partnerships? How have those programs been received? Or how effective have you seen them if they aren't?

DEBBIE EPSTEIN HENRY: I just want to repeat it for the benefit of the webcast. Just on the subject of accountability, have you seen any examples of D&I being tied to compensation or any other instrument that's going to really create some accountability?

DIANE T. ASHLEY: So there was a magazine called DiversityInc. And they do a top 50 list every year of the top 50 organizations in diversity inclusion. I will say that probably, if not all, the majority of those firms which are ranked in that top 50 all have a dashboard. They all have generally a ranking for their senior management which is tied to their comp in terms of like your performance, et cetera.

The tricky part is what you don't want to do is you don't want to set up a gaming scenario, where you're going to bring people in who are unqualified to say, oh, I had a diverse panel of candidates. So it really takes a lot of thoughtful thinking, planning, and strategy around ensuring that when you do a dashboard that you're not just checking the box.

SANDRA S. YAMATE: I have seen some law departments beginning to implement a diversity inclusion component to their performance reviews. I have seen one in particular where the general counsel decided that from the general counsel's office throughout the law department-- so to the lowest part-time file clerk, docket person, whoever-- everybody in the law department's performance review was going to have 10% of it in terms of what have they done for diversity inclusion? And that might mean, how have they helped some diverse intern who's been working in the law-- I mean, it runs the gamut. There are a whole bunch of examples that they give. But I do see that that is something that I'm seeing some corporate law departments beginning to implement.

DIANE T. ASHLEY: So just want to add to that. Because I need a caveat here. The DiversityInc top 50 are corporations, right? For those of us who work in the not-for-profit world or in the governmental entities, we may not be able to look at it from that perspective. So you've got to come up with other quantitative analytical indices to see what are you going to check people on? So I didn't want to say categorically everybody sitting here that's in a law firm can set up that kind of a dashboard. But I think the conversation merits a discussion with your senior management about how do you implement such a thing in your particular culture? As I said in the very beginning, you've got to know your culture.

DEBBIE EPSTEIN HENRY: Lorraine, real quick, yes.

AUDIENCE: Yes. Just to answer the question, I think that you are seeing a number of law firms, including my firm, Orrick-- I'm sure [? Decker ?] are evaluating partners on their efforts on D&I. And our leaders are also starting to be held accountable. We're making small, incremental change. But as the panelists have said, you've got to start with what the numbers are start holding people accountable. And I think even in the law firm context, that's starting to happen.

DEBBIE EPSTEIN HENRY: Very briefly, Darcy.

AUDIENCE: Are you seeing more RFPs from the clients asking for real diversity numbers?

DEBBIE EPSTEIN HENRY: Are you seeing more RFPs from the clients asking for more diversity numbers?


DEBBIE EPSTEIN HENRY: So we're just out of time. What I want to end with is a very brief parting message from each of you, either something that we haven't had a chance to cover that you think is really important to just inject into the conversation before we conclude, or something that we sort of did a cursory overview of and you want to just underscore. Diane.

DIANE T. ASHLEY: I would say certainly that not only is diversity inclusion a journey, but one of the things that we leave often in the conversation, it takes vision. You have got to be able to see ahead of the game. And I'll tell you right now from personal experience, from a Myers-Briggs type Indicator of those of you who know thinking styles, so I'm very high in N. I work in an environment that's very high in people that are analytical, sensing, thought-provoking, thinking. And that gives me a real challenge because I've got to be able to go in and help them to think about the way they learn. And how do we communicate that?

So I would say from a vision perspective, you've got to be aware that you may have an idea that's something you should do in two or three years. But you've got to understand. You've got to come up with a strategy that's going to help people be on the same page as you. And it may be an incremental strategy.


SATRA SAMPSON-AROKIUM: So yeah, no, I would say that no-- just to touch on what Diane said-- if you do have ideas in terms of innovation, innovative things that firms should be doing, law firms should be doing, please bring them forward. Because we are always looking for ways to continue to build upon what we've already started. We are taking strides. And we've taken small steps to move forward. But we are relying on our constituents, our individuals, our associates, our partners, to actually help us get there, to move the needle even further.

So as we're seeing right now as that was said that partners are being evaluated on what are they doing for diversity. What are some of the things that they can do to affect change within the firm? And more and more firms, law firms, are actually putting this in their strategic plans as they refresh their strategic plans. It's part of one of the priorities. So it's something that we're working on. It's still a work in progress. And as they say, diversity is a long journey. It's not a program.


SANDRA S. YAMATE: For a long time, we've been content to really categorize D&I as sort of a component of professional development. And that's not necessarily a wrong or a bad thing. But I do think that if we're really going to see this profession make some significant and meaningful change, we also need to embrace that there's going to have to be an advocacy component to it and that within that sphere of advocacy, we each need to come to terms with what we're able to do within our respective organizations. And I think we need to embrace it and not shy away from it.

DEBBIE EPSTEIN HENRY: Absolutely. And what I want to conclude with is the reference somebody made before Satra of Verna Myers, who is a dear friend and diversity consultant many of you may know. Her second book is titled What If I Say the Wrong Thing? And I want to kind of underscore what Darcy had said earlier. Part of this process is about inviting dialogue and not creating a chilling effect but really making environment transparent and comfortable enough that people feel comfortable asking the wrong questions and then hopefully evolving together to better solutions. So with that, I really want to thank this distinguished panel.


And again, I want to reiterate my thanks to Anna Brown, who was very instrumental in helping me with today's outline, Nate Saint-Victor, Lorraine McGowen, and Janet Siegel, and PLI. Thank you so much.



DIANE T. ASHLEY: Thank you.


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