Friday, November 11, 2011

As I was just saying....

     Not a day after I commented upon the difference between talking diversity and doing diversity, I read in the Philadelphia Business Journal this article pointing out that the hiring of women at big law firms has declined, according to an annual survey by the National Association of Women Lawyers.

     But how is this possible?  How many big firms now have "diversity officers?"  How many profess to provide extensive diversity programs (so they can secure business from clients who insist upon hiring law firms with diversity programs)?  I called the National Bar Association, the US' oldest and largest association of African American lawyers and judges to find out whether they do a similar survey and was unable to find one.

     On the other hand, the American Bar Association has done such studies and found, among other things, that nearly 100% of women of color practicing law have left the practice within a decade after starting.  I am also personally aware of three bar associations with active "diversity committees," but whose membership continues to be a sea of white, male faces (notwithstanding the fact that as a whole, the United States is becoming a sea of considerably diverse faces, which means eventually a serious disconnect between lawyers and their clients).

     As I commented yesterday, it's the doppler shift ---- everyone sees things from their own point of view, but it's basically the same thing if everyone were looking at it at the same time ---- it's sexism and it's racism and it's other types of "isms" prohibited by law, but routinely practiced.

     So if you watch Sheryl Sandberg tonight on Charlie Rose, you can choose to believe the one speeding away on the train to success, or you can look at the numbers.


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