For Success and Resilience - Diversify!

A corporate strategy mantra that also resonates within good law depts. and law firms

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Bruce Macmillan

There are many good reasons to ensure diversity in your legal department. By far the best is that diversity is proven to enhance outcomes across a range of business critical criteria.

When PayPal, Uber, Acritas, Springer Nature, Legal & General Group and RPC all say the same thing on the same day, we reckon it’s probably a good idea to take notice.

So when all those organisations agreed that diversifying your legal department and your law firm client contact team is good for business, the message was a powerful one.

It’s also a rational one on commercial, ethical and quality-of-working-life grounds.

Acritas' data, drawn from its recent survey of international legal departments, shows that diversity helps law departments and their law firm advisors achieve better results than monocultures across a range of criteria such as:

  • Value for money;
  • Business awareness; and
  • Consistency of quality.

This message came across loud and clear at an event hosted by RPC in November 2016, where Acritas’ Jo Aitken presented the results of the survey. Rachel Jacobs, General Counsel of Springer Nature, and Legal & General's Group Legal Manager (Retirement), Helena Hawthorn were the keynote speakers.

Having worked in a range of in-house legal departments from 1998 to 2015, I recognised Jo’s research findings and Rachel and Helena’s anecdotes and experiences. The best teams I’ve worked in and managed have all benefited from being very diverse.

A rounded range of skills, experiences, behaviours, cultures, backgrounds, nationalities, ethnicities, ages, genders and gender identities all help to provide insights and a balance of views and behaviours within the legal team. This makes the team more powerful and more resilient in meeting client needs than a monoculture in a law team could ever do.

The internal clients a legal department serves and the wider stakeholders it works with, including customers, suppliers and regulators are also increasingly diverse, especially in international organisations.

So, when your legal department mirrors its clients and its stakeholders, it can offer great benefits in terms of effectiveness, empathy and enjoyable engagement with the organisation.

Read more about inclusion and diversity within in-house law.

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