Is it possible to make change for women of color? The answer is yes, once retention and advancement is a strategic goal of the organization. The first step is to engage senior leaders by educating them on the business reasons for diversity. Once senior leadership is committed, legal employers can:
- Support the creation of employee networks for women of color, which serve as a career development tool for the individual, as well as a strong business development tool for the organization.
- Ensure that women of color are being mentored. Mentors perform three types of functions— sponsorship, coaching, and support—and a good mentoring program addresses these three distinct needs. Catalyst found that women of color are almost three times more likely as white women to find a mentor through a formal mentoring program.
- Encourage representation of women of color on important client matters and other high visibility opportunities, such as speaking engagements.
- Invest in the career development of women of color through funding business development events and membership in external community and professional organizations.
- Recognize and reward achievements of high-performing women of color. Catalyst research indicates that women of color do not believe they are recognized to the same extent as other employee groups.
- Integrate diversity goals into existing organizational practices, including recruitment of both entry-level and lateral hires, new-hire orientation, CLE training, and performance reviews.
From the March 2002 issue of Diversity & The Bar®