I was reading Bernard Goldberg’s OpEd piece in the WSJ remembering Tim Russert where he quotes from Russert:
I am for having women in the newsroom and minorities in the newsroom — I’m all for it. It opens up our eyes and gives us different perspectives. But just as well, let’s have people with military experience; let’s have people from all walks of life, people from the top-echelon schools but also people from junior colleges and the so-called middling schools — that’s the pageantry of America . . . You need cultural diversity, you need ideological diversity. You need it.
While Goldberg is focused on media bias in the newsroom, his points resonated with me on so many different levels and I began to ponder how we, as legal professionals, view law firm diversity programs.
At the start, what do we mean by diversity and what are we trying to accomplish? Are we looking to mix up the photos on our websites, increase our stats for an RFP, and perhaps win an award or two? Or are we trying to infuse different perspectives and ideas into how we and our firms view a client’s problems, issues or challenges?
One of the newer trends I am seeing come from our industry (law firms, bar associates and industry groups, etc) is to participate in programs that increase the pipeline of minority students who will eventually attend law schools, thereby increasing the minority candidates to recruit.
This is a great beginning. But, where do we go from there? Will all of those students end up at Harvard, USC or University of Chicago? What about the kids who end up going to 2nd Tier schools like Southwestern, McGeorge or Howard University? How many AmLaw 100 firms have tables set up there?
The question I have is: will we continue to limit our recruitment efforts to the Ivy Leagues and other top tier schools, or will we open it up to the middling schools?
I want to be extremely clear: I’m not saying don’t actively recruit women and minorities. I applaud those efforts. I’m just saying we should not close our eyes to the economic, cultural and ideological diversity that exists as well. At the end of the day, diversity is more than just a color, it’s the way our varying and diverse life experiences, beliefs, attitudes and opinions come together to create a masterpiece.