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To understand the current landscape, World IP Review undertook a global survey of law firm staffers and partners, asking about their experiences in their current organizations on diversity and inclusion, and what more the legal profession can do. 

Aside from the financial benefits, it’s clear that executives think diversity is a good thing.

According to Egon Zehnder's Leaders & Daughters Global Survey, 87% of 2,500 executives across seven countries believe that having a diverse workplace was important to the success of their organization. Increasingly, big brands are also stipulating diversity criteria for law firms they partner with.

“Law firms cannot sit on the sidelines in the discussion around diversity and inclusion—in an increasingly disruptive and competitive legal market, clients are looking to partner with law firms that can bring the different perspectives and innovative solutions that diverse and inclusive teams are best placed to deliver," says Charlie Beasley, an Egon Zehnder consultant in London. For law firms to truly make progress, says Beasley, “individual partners need to understand the important role they play in creating a more diverse and inclusive culture both for their direct teams and for the organisation as a whole. They then need to take action on a daily basis— spotting and tackling unconscious bias, being aware of the different leadership styles they can use to motivate and lead and, at a practical level, being supportive of agile and more flexible ways of working to retain and develop talented team members through different life-stages,” he concludes.

Egon Zehnder’s “2018 Global Board Diversity Tracker” found that in 19 of the 44 countries, all the major publicly traded companies with market capitalisation of €7 billion ($7.9 billion)-plus have at least one female director, up from 15 countries in 2016 and just eight in 2012.

Nine of these countries have instituted a quota. On the other side, 25 countries (including China, Brazil and Germany) are home to large companies with no women on their boards at all. Only one-fifth of board seats of the largest companies globally are now held by women, although this is an increase from 18.5% in 2016.

“Diversity and inclusion matter for the simple reason that they drive better business performance, support innovative and agile thinking and enable companies to attract and retain the very best talent in the market,” says Beasley.



Full Story: Women in the boardroom: Diversity matters. 5, May 2019.

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