article I wrote on Bank of America’s diversity program brings together so many themes
discussed in previous posts.
share this commitment. But for purposes of this post, it could be any general,
actually measures diversity internally and externally. The Bank is not alone in
this. But I have been shocked at how many law departments that make public commitments
to diversity take the next logical step of measuring it. Instead, they setup
committees, join task forces, sponsor events, etc. These are all commendable except
they have proven insufficient
by themselves to actually move the diversity statistics.
sea change if every large, corporate client meaningfully measured dollars out
the door to diverse timekeepers in terms of billed services and originations? Add to that some
differentiation by level (e.g., paralegal, partner) and spend with MWBE firms.
measurement normally needs baselines and target values. This is where we are at. This is where we want to be. The target
values may, in many instances, need to be arbitrary. But that does not
mean they have to be random. It helps to have a reference class of peers to
measure against each other. Even if your goal is to raise the baseline, you get
a sense of practical parameters.
amazing what results can be achieved when a law department asks its law firms
to make verifiable progress against an empirically-established baseline. This structured
dialogue begins with the one-way measurement, but it does not end there.
Key to this
self-evaluation is a question that recognizes the dual responsibility of the
law firm and the client: “What could Bank of America do better to enhance
your Firm’s diversity performance/metrics for the coming year?”
Bank of America profile demonstrates, the discussion can go beyond the numbers
to the challenges faced and the other ways in which the law firm is striving to
serve the commonly held goal. The discussions are key for reinforcing the goal,
as well as deepening
the law department/firm relationship by creating dialogue, a sense of
shared purpose, and alignment in perspectives on the problem being addressed.
the foregoing matters unless it actually results in improvement. But it does. What
we choose to measure is a form of incentive in its own right. And client
goodwill is of key importance in a highly competitive environment that is so
dependent on relationships.
are falling behind their peer firms has a substantial motivational impact on
legal overachievers. ‘Law firms are competitive by nature. So any constructive
comment on areas for improvement is usually enough to motivate change within
the firm,’ remarks Quarmby.
that perform well should be rewarded. In addition to high marks on their
performance reviews and the attendant goodwill, Bank of America actually hosts
an awards dinner for its top performing firms. The winner even gets their award
directly from the Bank’s GC.
no finish line. There is a sustained commitment to continuous improvement.