Pathways Study Diversity Models
Developing a Model Diversity Plan
The diversity plan is the foundation upon which the strength and efficacy of future programs and initiatives will depend. The purpose of a plan is to take the necessary general statement of a policy and its underlying objectives and create specific goals and steps for the achievement of those goals. The ingredients of the diversity plan are the result of discussions between a cross section of the senior management and legal department members including senior managers, human resources, legal administration and corporate counsel.
Effective diversity plans produce the following results:
- Increase the percentage of women and minorities throughout the department;
- Improve communication between different groups in the legal department (for example, administrative staff and attorneys, senior management and junior attorneys, etc.);
- Reduce attrition rates of women and minorities; and
- Increase business with minority-owned law firms or minority partners or attorneys in majority-owned firms.
Key components and accountabilities of a diversity plan are as follows:
- Corporate Diversity Strategy – Senior Management
- Develops long term strategic plans that include diversity
- Demonstrates commitment
- Develops the business case for diversity
- Formulates company-wide diversity strategy
- Establishes a diversity committee
- Business Unit Diversity Strategy – Business Unit Heads/Legal
- Establishes long and short range plans
- Formulates and communicates responsibility
- Leads diversity/inclusion efforts
- Develops communications strategy that builds advocacy and obtains buy-in
- Diversity Initiatives – Business Unit Heads/Legal/HR/Diversity Committee
- Forms business unit diversity committees
- Obtains baseline data-for example, staffing, recruiting, promotions, retention, succession planning, and attrition or turnover.
- Develops programs-for example, recruiting strategy, training, career development, performance management, mentoring, etc
- Establishes managers’ diversity goals
- Implementation Process – Business Unit Heads/Legal/HR/Diversity Committee
- Integrates diversity into HR systems and processes-for example, recruiting strategy, retention, promotions, performance management, career development
- Aligns compensation with managers’ diversity goals
- Conducts training
- Ensures ongoing communications to support the effort
- Metrics, Accountability – Business Unit Heads/HR/Diversity Committee
- Measures diversity efforts based on objectives
- Provides evaluation tools to measure all diversity initiatives-recruiting, retention, promotions, performance management, career development
- Conducts quarterly progress meetings
- Administers and measures climate surveys
- Conducts focus group meetings
- Board of Directors supports and reaffirms the business case and the diversity initiative and reviews and monitors progress on an ongoing basis.
The Pathways Study reveals that companies use different approaches to developing diversity plans. The common denominator of successful plans tends to be senior management involvement and accountability. While plans vary structurally, if senior management is involved and holds leaders accountable for results, plans have a greater degree of success. The Pathways Study indicates that linking compensation to diversity goals is an approach that is effective.
The plan should be developed by senior management in consultation with representatives from human resources and legal administration, one of whom will act as the diversity team leader. The diversity team should communicate the plan to the department and utilize the feedback from the initial presentation to create a series of action steps as well as to appoint a committee to oversee implementation of the plan.
The approach to developing the plan should be tailored to fit departmental needs. Several report participants have recognized this and have created plans that have worked effectively in their departments.