This afternoon, I have the great fortune to be sitting in on a program by the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession on “Deconstructing Racial Bias.” Their first speaker was Sharon Jones, the CEO of Jones Diversity Inc. and author of Mastering the Game: Strategies for Career Success. She had many brilliant and sobering things to share with the audience, but the one that she left us with was the idea that firms and companies shouldn’t be striving for color-blindness. You may be familiar with this idea as people saying “I don’t see color,” or “the ideal world is where we don’t recognize color.” But what we should be striving for instead is color-inclusion.
How do we do this? Sharon has four recommendations:
- Require diverse legal teams and track the hours that diverse lawyers spend to ensure that they’re working an equal number of hours.
- Require search firms to provide you with a diverse slate, and don’t make hiring decisions until you’ve seen a fully diverse slate.
- Be willing to look at the data that you have on diversity, and if it’s not becoming more diverse in your firm or company, ASK WHY. Ask the hard questions and don’t accept the flimsy excuses that Black and brown people are getting multiple job offers (this is false), that they want to only practice certain types of law (ask them) or that you can’t find them (you’re not looking).
- Make sure that lawyers of color have powerful and influential sponsors.