by Holly Barocio / December 18, 2018
Research recently conducted by Kenji Yoshino, the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at New York University School of Law, along with Deloitte, is shining light on something attorneys from underrepresented groups already know very well: many people often “cover” aspects of their identity—age, citizenship, disability, gender, race, religion, and sexual orientation—in order to conform to mainstream corporate culture. Yoshino calls this a “second-generation form of bias in the workplace,” because people feel they have to bend themselves to fit the mold in order to be respected by their colleagues and superiors.
Yoshino and other inclusion experts draw a distinction between diversity and inclusion. Whereas diversity may focus on increasing numbers, inclusion focuses on the experience and level of comfort expressing one’s true authentic self in an environment. At a time when law firms are investing in diversity efforts, like recruiting and hiring best practices that include more diverse candidates, all one needs to do is look at the retention statistics Yoshino points out to conclude the disconnect has not been successfully addressed. Another recent example is the Starbucks debacle earlier this year. Yet another case study on how an organization can have a written policy and formal training, but unless people know how to interpret and apply the policy, they’re only words on a page.
So what can your firm do to make authentic cultural change?