By Gregory B. Jordan, Global Managing Partner, Reed Smith LLP
LEGISLATION IN THE past fifty years, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, support workplace diversity. These legislative prohibitions on employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ability status, and gender foster workplace climates in which diversity can thrive, but they do not require workplaces to become more diverse. Nondiscrimination as the law of the land is a first step, but the journey to diversity within a law firm or the profession is significantly longer.
Absent a legislative mandate, it is the responsibility of employers to create employment policies and strategies that effectively recruit, promote, and retain diverse employees in all positions. Although the legislative requirements for employment diversity are weak, the business case is strong.
In thirteen years at the helm of Reed Smith, I have encouraged the design and implementation of numerous initiatives that have transformed our firm into a significantly more diverse organization. I count participating in the formation of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity as a major contribution. LCLD focuses on uniting the legal industry’s senior leaders in law firms and corporations into one organization to resolve the enormous diversity challenges of the legal profession.
Other contributions launched during my tenure include: CareeRS, which delivers tools and mentoring to all attorneys that have been particularly beneficial for diverse attorneys’ career trajectories; the Women’s Initiative Network (WINRS), which promotes gender diversity and women’s work/life balance; minority scholarships, which identify and support diverse law students; and LGBT employment outreach and supports.
Diversity is a core commitment of Reed Smith. The firm and I are dedicated to leading the profession toward achieving a diverse and inclusive workforce.