Law is today’s least diverse profession in this country and no one is doing anything about it.
It seems from our perspective that the legal industry and profession is growing more than ever. We even see that three women now hold seats at the Supreme Court and there are women of color who occupy many high-level seats in the government. According to statistics, the law profession is the least racially diverse industry in our country as 88% of lawyers are white.
The legal profession has been exclusive for years, and now the times call for a more inclusive membership in order to serve the population. The big issue is: not many lawyers believe there is a problem.
Women make up about a third of the lawyer population in the nation, but only such a small percentage are equity partners. Women are actually less likely to make partner even if they spend time out of the workforce or have great law school grades, or are on part-time schedules. Men are five times more likely to make partner.
The concern is not an issue, the lack of action is. People attribute the lack of diversity within minorities to the lack of candidates in the pool/ Another huge issue is the “woman problem” where women’s choices and family responsibilities take time away from the idea of a 24/7 workplace. The profession is demanding, that’s for sure, but there must be something to be done about this.
It’s no secret that there exists a sense of exclusion from support networks and an unconscious bias against minorities. Personal career development is also an issue when it comes to being a minority or a woman – managers will promote white associates to go to developmental courses more than minorities. Racism still exists in tiny ways that make big differences in someone’s work life.
Women are subject to an impossible double standard as well as a double blind in the legal profession – among other professions too. Mothers who are working full time are automatically assumed to be less committed and competent, which is not something assumed of fathers.
The issue to focus on here is that lawyers need to take a look at their industry and other industries and take the initiative to move forward with change. Assuming personal responsibility for professional changes is extremely important to make all these reforms a reality. “Women” or “minority” issues cannot be seen that way anymore, they should be seen as organizational priorities where everyone plays a role in maintaining success.