U.S. Chief Diversity Officer & Chair of U.S. Diversity and Inclusion Committee
Norton Rose Fulbright
Headquarters: Houston, TX
Business: Law firm
CEO: Linda Addison
QUEST FOR DIVERSITY EXCELLENCE IN LEGAL SECTOR
With diversity and inclusion as an integral component of its continuing quest for excellence in the legal sector, Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP has an ambitious D & I agenda.
The firms’ U.S. Chief Diversity Officer Gina Shishima has created a three-pronged D & I approach, that includes setting goals, holding leadership accountable and engaging clients. “We have made a global commitment to advance women by setting a target of 30 percent female equity partners and 30 percent women in leadership positions by the year 2020,” Shishima said. “With the 200 largest U.S. law firms averaging female equity partners of only 17 percent, this is challenging,” she added.
Few firms have been this ambitious in their diversity objectives, as women currently represent only 17 percent of partners in the U.S. “To achieve our goals, we are making strong efforts in retention, promotion, and lateral recruiting,” Shishima said.
GOALS, METRICS AND ACCOUNTABILITY
The firm currently has 23 percent female equity partners, 6 percent above the industry average. It has a female managing partner, as well as a senior leadership body that is 36 percent female.
“If it’s not measured, it’s not managed,” Shishima added, emphasizing the firm’s commitment to making changes not only within, but also across the legal industry and within expansive client engagement initiatives.
Norton Rose Fulbright works closely with clients on a variety of diversity initiatives, including a diversity speaker series, matching in-house attorneys with outside counsel, mentorship programs for diverse law school students, unconscious bias training and diversity keynotes for clients.
“One of our major synergies has come from working closely with our clients. Because of our mutual goals, it has allowed us to create more and better relationships with the people and companies we work with,” Shishima said.
The firm is developing an Attorney Match-up Program, under which diverse attorneys are matched with non-diverse clients by practice area. “By deliberately placing people together, we expect that invisible barriers and unconscious biases will start to fall away,” she explained.
Last year, the firm launched Diverse Perspectives, a diversity speaker series that presents ongoing conversations with clients, diversity champions, and other thought leaders throughout the legal profession. The firms’ D & I initiatives have not gone unnoticed. It has recently been recognized for exceptional efforts in diversity on the In America Diversity in the Law documentary hosted by James Earl Jones. The documentary will air on PBS stations across the U.S. this year.
CHALLENGES AND SYNERGIES
“It is no small feat to inspire change across the legal industry so I expect to face many challenges,” Shishima said. “As a global law firm, adapting to change can be slow. [ Like many other law firms, we are working on integrating diversity into all aspects of our business.
The firm will continue the momentum and continue championing diversity both within its organization and across the industry, according to Shishima. “We want people to bring their whole selves to work. Our D & I strategy is purposely broad and covers a variety of areas: ethnic and cultural diversity, family, flexible work schedules, gender diversity, sexual orientation and gender identity,” she said.
Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP is a member of Norton Rose Fulbright, a global law firm with more than 3,800 employees in over 50 cities across Europe, the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, Australia, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.
HIGHLIGHTS OF NORTON ROSE FULBRIGHT US’ RECENT RECOGNITION INCLUDE:
- Profiles in Diversity Journal – Diversity Leader Award
- HRC Corporate Equality Index: 100 percent
- WILEF Gold Standard Certification
- Working Mother – 50 Best Law Firms for Women
- Flex-Time Lawyers: Honored among the top 50 for each of the last five years
- Dell Legal Diversity Award
- Numerous pro bono projects supporting LGBT and other diversity groups