“We have to transcend our differences to transform our future.”
Diversity involves embracing people from different backgrounds irrespective of factors like age, class, ethnicity, gender, health, or physical appearance. Diversity applies to the public and private spheres, especially regarding hiring in companies, factories, firms, and governmental organizations. It also applies to memberships in learning institutions, clubs, and fraternal societies.
According to U.S. News and World Report, 62% of law students in America were white, 12.7% were Hispanic, and 7.8% were Black.
Given that the population of African Americans in the country stands at 15%, there is a clear discrepancy between the actual number of law students versus what one would expect to find.
Regarding sexual orientation, a poll by NALP found that only 2% of partners and 4% of associates openly identify as LGBT. This is in contrast to the fact that 7% of the American population identifies as members of the LGBT community.
Fortunately, the news isn’t all bad because we have made tremendous progress on gender. More than 54% of law students today are women, and the number is growing. 
This begs the question, why has there been such an improvement in gender but not race or sexual orientation? Part of the answer to this question is that
 "Law Schools, Law Firms Must Share Responsibility for Diversity." 21 Jul. 2021, https://news.bloomberglaw.com/banking-law/law-schools-law-firms-must-share-responsibility-for-diversity. Accessed 7 Oct. 2022.
 "NALP Research: LGBT Representation Among Lawyers in 2019." https://www.nalp.org/0120research. Accessed 7 Oct. 2022.
 "Women Outnumbered Men in Law Schools in 2020...Again - ENJURIS." https://www.enjuris.com/students/law-school-women-enrollment-2020/. Accessed 7 Oct. 2022.
there has been greater advocacy on the gender question over a longer period, leading to greater action. As a society, we accepted women’s rights far sooner than racial civil or LGBT rights.
A common misconception about diversity is that it’s about meeting quotas and requirements. In truth, it is about improving workplace performance and efficiency.
Diversity improves productivity by increasing creativity, boosting innovation, encouraging wider strategic thinking, and allowing organizations to pool knowledge from different backgrounds.
How lawyers can improve diversity in the workplace
Law firms can take several steps to help promote diversity in the workplace. These steps work best when taken incrementally and strategically. It is also important not to present them to the workplace antagonistically; instead, it is best to present them as a necessary step toward greater organizational functionality and progress.
#: Take account of the current situation
A law firm can take workplace surveys using questionnaires to get effective feedback on gender, race, orientation, and employees; health; the firm can then quantify this data in percentages to determine areas that lack sufficient diversity.
#: Communicate your vision
A common mistake by firms with good intentions but poor execution is to start implementing programs without effectively communicating why the new measures are important. Taking time to talk to people shows respect and appreciation, thus reducing hostility and backlash.
#: Hire deliberately
Contacting friendly organizations such as universities and bar associations is an effective way to find high-quality employees that help meet diversity goals. It’s important to ensure that quality is always adhered to even as you improve.
#: Keep diversity in mind when promoting
Despite improving numbers in terms of hiring, there is still a problem with the number of minorities in high-ranking positions such as partners, managing partners, CFO, and CTO.
How lawyers can promote diversity in the world
The legal profession is one of the most powerful careers in the world; therefore, it can create immense positive change. Lawyers can create this change by taking the following steps:
#: Take on discriminatory cases that promote diversity
Many employees have been denied employment and promotion opportunities based on age, race, orientation, or disability. Taking on these kinds of cases is an effective way to promote diversity in the world.
#: Take on diverse clients
Many prestigious law firms have embraced diversity in their hiring but not in the cases and clients they actually take on. As of 2019, the percentage of fortune 500 companies run by white men was 85.6%. This reflects the general state of corporate America and, therefore:
#: Offer mentorship and pipeline programs for diverse students
Offering mentorship to young people is an effective way to help them navigate the challenges that emerge with coming from diverse backgrounds.
Poverty is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to success; offering scholarships and guidance can help bridge the gap that disadvantages many young people.
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Joseline J. Hardrick is the Founder and President of Diversity Access Pipeline, Inc. She is also an author, professor, and lawyer and resides in Tampa Bay, Florida. Guest bloggers are students in the Journey to Esquire® Scholarship & Leadership Program.