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Professional firms becoming diversity weary?

Posted by: Laurence Simons 25/01/13

According to a new report from law firm, Reed Smith, many professional firms are becoming slightly fatigued with the constant push to improve their diversity rating, meaning there could be a backlash against what is ultimately a worthy aim that could benefit businesses.

Chief legal executives share the suspicion that their counterparts in other firms have towards the concept of quotas, possibly feeling that allowing the EU to have its way on this matter will lead to square apples becoming compulsory because of their greater efficiency quotient.

Some 74 per cent of respondents described themselves as being against the implementation of quotas.

Furthermore, despite an acceptance of the benefits of diversity, some firms feel that the dizzying array of measures being introduced are making it difficult to actually do anything.

"There are almost as many diversity programmes as there are companies trying to implement them. This hit-or-miss approach has created a flurry of activity but very few positive results," the report claimed.

It suggested that establishing a clear business case for gender balancing and stressing the tangible benefits it can have will encourage businesses to concentrate on it.

Richard Swinburn, London office managing partner at Reed Smith, argued that treating diversity as part of the talent development system will help it gain more leverage.

In conclusion, the best way to encourage business leaders to do anything is to tell them it will make them more money, rather than troubling them with abstract concepts like morality or fairness.

A number of recent surveys have indicated that diversity can have a tangible effect on the bottom line of businesses that put the right procedures into place - stressing the same thing for legal firms is likely to see more women move into senior positions in the future.