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Why are law firms still failing on diversity? (Article)


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This a very difficult question, so I appreciate the respectful discourse.

My $0.02.

A truly effective long term solution has to involve looking at other factors outside of just intolerant attitudes/behaviour in the workplace. There is no shortage of persuasive argument/evidence showing that racism/sexism etc. is problem in the profession, I'm just not sure it is the problem that has to be solved completely to facilitate recruitment and retention of more diverse lawyers. 

It's not lost on me that people leave their jobs for all sorts of reasons, an unwelcoming environment being one of them. But in an age where work life balance has never been more emphasized, where people have never been more encouraged to "work for themselves", where people have more choice than ever in where to apply and how to apply themselves and where almost no one spends 20-30 years with one employer, I wonder if we aren't sometimes looking at this a bit backwards. i.e. the remainder at the top is overwhelmingly white therefore the problem we have to solve first to fix the recruitment and retention issue is racism. Ditto for gender. Ditto for *insert intersectional identity marker.*

I think we must also account for the fact that Canada is overall still a very white heteronormative society and will be for some time. I mean, we are more white than the U.S. And that is relevant when you start looking at demographics at the top of a profession historically dominated by the most privileged group. Some percentage of the "problem" may simply be a built in demographic issue that would essentially replicate itself in any majority/minority situation. And I don't know that more sensitivity training can make that go away.

Work is not purely professional. It is also social. And the social is informed by factors that are difficult to reduce into neat compartments to be tackled by well-trained HR professionals; socio-economic background, personality, interests, language, lived experience, culture, race, ethnicity, immigration status, family status, education, and so on. 

Now from what I can see, change is coming. I believe it is inevitable. The demographics entering law school are far more diverse and with the increasing focus on recruiting BIPOC students, I even noticed an uptick in the number of students who self-identify as black attending Western. And I think it's just a matter of time time before there's a real sea change at the top. But in the interim, the 15-20 year calls aren't going anywhere and the law was a lot whiter then and even more so the further back you go.

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