By Kathleen B. Nalty
J.D., Executive Director, Center for Legal Inclusiveness

Engaging white men is imperative for any successful D&I program. In the legal profession, white men make up the majority of practitioners and almost always are the crucial decision-makers whose buy-in is necessary for substantive D&I progress.

At the Center for Legal Inclusiveness (CLI), we have been working the last five years to close this gap. CLI educates law firms and law departments about inclusiveness. Inclusiveness focuses on valuing everyone’s strengths, including white men. With this new understanding, they are increasingly helping create workplaces where everyone can do their best work and thrive.

CLI has been fortunate to have developed relationships with many white men who are D&I allies and champions—serving on CLI’s board of directors, partnering on initiatives, and ardently advocating D&I in their law firms and law departments.

Programmatically, CLI has developed several resources on how to engage white men. For legal leaders, CLI’s General Counsel/Managing Partner Retention Roundtable (comprised of mostly white men) created a Diverse Attorney Retention Model for Leaders with specific action items in five areas: 1) Personal Leadership, 2) Team Leadership, 3) Next-Level Leadership, 4) Urgency/Business Case, and 5) Including White Men. Legal organizations can use this CLI model to ignite action in their leadership.

For additional ways to enlist white men in D&I efforts, CLI created the following go-to list.

8 Ways to Engage White Men

  1. Talk about inclusiveness, not just diversity.
  2. Help them build relationships across difference.
  3. Identify influential white male leaders to help champion your efforts.
  4. Include them on your D&I committee and encourage a powerful white man to chair/co-chair it.
  5. Educate them about the business imperative.
  6. Help them become aware of bias and hidden inequities.
  7. Give them a list of tasks.
  8. Provide incentives organization-wide for D&I efforts.