Despite years of programs designed to combat it, racial and gender discrimination continues to be a challenge across the practice of law.
Many of our CPD courses talk about obvious explicit biases within our firms, and for many of us, it’s easy to say: ‘well that’s not me’. But the more insidious problem of implicit bias exists in the most open-minded individuals, without them even realising.
Luckily, we’ve seen some great initiatives in firms who recognise the role implicit bias plays in their own hiring and promotion processes.
We know of a mid-tier firm that has, for the last five years, been running their graduate programs with no identifying features for the candidates – a program they’ve found has had a positive impact on the diversity of their grad groups. The more diverse our first-year lawyers are, the more diverse our leadership teams will become.
We also know of firms who have piloted programs where work is delegated from a spreadsheet based on capacity, rather than directly from senior lawyers to their favourite juniors. These types of programs have disrupted the usual flow of work from partners who (unconsciously or otherwise) value sameness.
Of course, these measures help in ensuring that diverse lawyers have more opportunities available to them, but it doesn’t solve the problem of implicit bias altogether. However, at Sigma Executive, we hope that by promoting and working within these programs, we can create a more diverse legal industry.